Futures are lower as caution reigns
David Russell | firstname.lastname@example.org
S&P 500 futures are down about one-third of percent, following losses of half a percent to a full percentage point in Europe. Both are trying to recover in the last 30 minutes. Asian markets were mixed overnight, though Shanghai and Tokyo rebounded from yesterday's declines.
If the S&P finishes lower today, it would mark the first time this year that the index has declined in three straight sessions. While there is no news causing the weakness, the catalyst appears to be worry that an improving U.S. economy will cause the Federal Reserve to scale back monetary stimulus.
Adding to that concern is the possibility of profit-taking with the S&P 500 already up 16 percent so far this year. Investors may also be reluctant to put money to work before the long Memorial Day weekend. In addition, yesterday afternoon brought poor quarterly results or outlooks from companies including Salesforce.com and Sears.
The S&P 500 closed yesterday's session down less than one-third of a percent after dropping more than a full percent shortly after the open. Price performance within the market was unusually positive for a negative session, with aggressive sectors like small caps, transports, materials and energy all strong.
There have also been potentially bullish signs from Europe, with manufacturing data strong earlier in the week and Germany's Ifo survey of business sentiment better than expected today. The euro is advancing against the U.S. dollar, as well.
Other currencies are painting a more cautious picture as the Japanese yen rallies across the board. Oil is down about half a percent, though copper is trying to eke out gains. Precious metals are down fractionally.
In company-specific news, CRM fell 7 percent after earnings failed to beat expectations and its outlook for the current quarter trailed estimates. SHLD is down 14 percent after missing revenue estimates and reporting a much-wider loss than analysts had feared.
Semiconductor stock Marvell Technology and online-music company Pandora Media, on the other hand, are both up after quarterly strong results.