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Stocks hover after steep declines

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are little-changed this morning after a big drop yesterday.

S&P 500 futures are down by 0.1 percent after trying to rebound earlier in the morning. Europe is lower by 0.5 percent to 1 percent, while Asian markets fell more sharply in the overnight session.

Worries about conflict with Syria and investor fatigue have combined to send equities lower in recent weeks. The S&P 500 made a new all-time high on Aug. 2 but then slipped below its 10-day moving average and has been falling since. It attempted to rebound earlier this week but once again hit resistance at that key short-term momentum gauge.

Yesterday's 1.59 percent selloff was the biggest drop since June 20 and represented only the second close below the index's 100-day moving average this year. The big question now facing investors is whether to buy the current pullback or wait for a more significant support level, such as 1600, to be reached.

They must also navigate a market with few calendar events to serve as catalysts through the long Labor Day weekend three days from now. But next week is full of pivotal reports, including global manufacturing numbers and monthly employment data.

Despite nervousness toward geopolitical risk, our researchLAB market scanner shows positive sentiment toward stocks and sectors that will benefit from stronger growth in China, such as shipping companies and coal miners. Energy has also benefited from higher oil prices. Financials and consumer discretionary stocks have led to the downside.

Oil is up another 1 percent this morning, and precious metals are posting smaller gains on the Syrian tensions. Copper is down more than half a percent.

Dollar strength is the main theme in foreign-exchange markets, with the euro and yen both declining against the greenback. The Australian and Canadian dollars, which tend to follow risk appetite, are lower as well.

In company-specific news, coal-mining equipment company Joy Global is down more than 4 percent after reporting weak order growth. Retailer Express rallied 9 percent on strong quarterly results. Avago Technologies and TiVo are also pushing higher.

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