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September 28, 2012  Fri 7:11 AM CT

SPX: SEE CHART GET CHAIN FIND STRATEGIES
U.S. stock futures are pointing lower as the S&P 500 consolidates at its highest levels since before the 2008 subprime-mortgage crash.

The index is down by less than 0.5 percent in early trading, following declines of similar magnitude in Europe.

The big news came yesterday when Spain announced austerity measures to counter yawning deficits, and now attention is turning to a stress test of the nation's banks and to Paris, where the government wants to hike income taxes despite rising unemployment. France's CAC-40 index fell almost 1 percent, making it the biggest loser in the region.

Asian markets were little-changed in the overnight session. Shanghai was the biggest gainer, rallying more than 1.4 percent as Chinese stocks continue to rebound from long-term lows.

The story now is one of consolidation after many anticipated headlines, such as the Spanish budget, have come and gone. While the economic picture has darkened in recent weeks, attention will soon shift toward the approach of U.S. corporate earnings season in October.

Volatility is also at long-term lows, and the S&P 500 yesterday hit resistance around 1450--a support level from earlier in the month. That could make some chart watchers expect sideways movement for the time being rather than new highs, especially with the index back to levels last seen in January 2008.

Commodities are showing a mild trend toward risk this morning despite the weakness in equities. Oil, silver, and copper are up nearly 0.5 percent, and natural gas and gasoline prices continues to climb. Platinum is standing out with a gain of more than 1 percent, while most agricultural foodstuffs are lower.

Currency exchange rates are muted, with the euro slightly higher against the U.S. dollar. Most currency pairs show little change.

In company-specific news, Research In Motion is likely to be active after revenue beat expectations and its quarterly loss was narrower than consensus estimates. Cash levels at the company, down more than 50 percent this year, rose as well, sending RIMM higher by about 15 percent.

Industrial-products company AZZ is also surging after its results crushed expectations and management raised guidance. Nike is falling after orders disappointed investors.
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