U.S. Markets closed

Equities pause near long-term highs

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Market sentiment is mostly positive again today as sellers remain on the sidelines.

S&P 500 futures are up by about 0.1 percent, while the Nasdaq is lagging after weak corporate guidance. European indexes are mostly higher as well, led by the DAX after Germany reported strong industrial production. Asian markets fell overnight as traders took profits in Shanghai and Tokyo.

Stocks have spent the last week consolidating slightly above 1500 in the wake of a blistering January rally. While some investors have hoped for a pullback, few sellers have stepped forward amid an improving global economic backdrop.

The European Central Bank left its main interest rate unchanged at 0.75 percent, as expected. The other big economic event today will be the release of weekly jobless claims in the United States at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Commodity and foreign-exchange trading are painting a modestly bullish picture as well. Assets associated with global growth and risk appetite--oil, copper, the euro, and Australian dollar--are all higher, while the safe-haven Japanese yen is lower against most other currencies. Agricultural products and precious metals are posting small losses.

In company-specific news, several technology names are lower on disappointing guidance. Web-traffic company Akamai Technologies dropped about 16 percent, and TriQuint Semiconductor fell 11 percent. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is also weighing on the Nasdaq with a 7 percent drop after warning that growth would slow.

Retailers will also be active today as they report January same-store sales. Zumiez is climbing 5 percent after strong monthly numbers led the company to raise its outlook.

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