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September 5, 2013  Thu 7:08 AM CT

SPX: SEE CHART GET CHAIN FIND STRATEGIES
Stocks are little-changed before key economic data, consolidating after two days of gains.

European markets are up slightly, and Asian indexes were mostly positive in the overnight session. Commodities and currencies are modestly bullish.

Equities have climbed in the first two sessions after the long Labor Day weekend, supported by strong economic data from China, Europe, and the United States. While some worries have arisen from the possibility of military action against Syria, there is still no certainty about when--or if--strikes will occur. The delay has allowed the longer-term bullish trend in the S&P 500 to resume.

Investors face more economic headlines today, focusing on ADP's key private-sector payrolls report at 8:15 a.m. ET. The Labor Department follows with initial jobless claims 15 minutes later. Both announcements will be eyed as harbingers of tomorrow's key non-farm payrolls report.

The Bank of England and European Central Bank both left key interest rates unchanged earlier today.

Economically sensitive materials and energy have been the strongest sectors in the last month, reflecting confidence that global growth will accelerate later this year. Ocean shipping companies have also outperformed, along with once-distressed European countries such as Italy and Spain.

Commodity and currency markets are painting a modestly bullish picture, with oil, copper, and precious metals slightly higher. The Japanese yen down fractionally across the board and appears to have broken free of a four-month consolidation period, a move that could be positive for sentiment overall if it continues. The euro is unchanged.

In company-specific news, Louisiana-Pacific is indicated up almost 9 percent after agreeing to buy Canada's Ainsworth Lumber for $1.1 billion, a deal that represents confidence that the housing recovery will continue. NCI Building Systems declined in extended hours yesterday after third-quarter sales missed analyst forecasts.
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