U.S. Markets open in 7 hrs 2 mins

Equities pause a day after big rally

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are inching lower this morning as investors take profits following Wednesday's sharp rally.

S&P 500 futures are down about two-tenths of a percent and have been rebounding in the last hour. Europe is posting similar declines, while Asia was mostly higher in the overnight session.

The S&P 500 surged 1.4 percent yesterday as politicians in Washington agreed to raise the country's debt ceiling and reopen the government. The index has run 4.5 percent over the space of just six days. It began that move by testing support at its 100-day moving average, the third time this year it bounced sharply from that key level.  The benchmark is back within striking distance of its all-time high from mid-September, while the Russell 2000 small cap index closed at a record level.

Attention will now focus on economic news and corporate earnings. Investors also face the unusual situation of receiving reports such as monthly retail sales and non-farm payrolls long after their normal releases because of the government shutdown, so there could be delayed reaction to numbers that should have been known earlier.

Initial jobless claims will be announced at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional activity index at 10 a.m. China will also announce gross domestic product, industrial production and retail sales tonight, which could have a big impact Friday morning.

Earnings from major companies have also been modestly disappointing so far. Last night, International Business Machines missed revenue estimates by more than $1 billion, triggering a 7 percent decline in the stock. EBay issued a weak outlook and is down 6 percent. SandDisk inched higher on a strong report, but Select Comfort plunged more than 20 percent after profit and revenue missed expectations.

This morning's big reports include Goldman Sachs and UnitedHealth, which both fell after revenue lagged consensus.

Commodities and currencies have a mildly bearish tone, with economically sensitive oil down about half a percent and copper lower by almost 1 percent. Precious metals rebounded on short covering. The euro continued to advance, but the safe-haven Japanese yen was strong across the board.

More From optionMONSTER