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October 29, 2013  Tue 7:10 AM CT

SPX: SEE CHART GET CHAIN FIND STRATEGIES
Stocks are inching higher today after finding support at new highs last week.

S&P 500 futures rose about two tenths of a percent, matching gains of a similar magnitude in Europe. Asian markets were little changed in the overnight session aside from India, which rallied almost two percent after its central bank raised interest rates.

The S&P 500 has risen in 12 of the past 14 sessions, supported by bullish sentiment, decent earnings and a benign interest-rate backdrop. The index pushed to new record highs last week and quickly bounced after a slight pullback on Wednesday, suggesting momentum remains bullish.

Our researchLAB market scanner shows emerging strength in stocks that will benefit from a better credit market: Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, loan servicers and financial guarantors. Home builders have also bounced after interest rates fell, while gold and silver miners have tried to rebound from long-term lows. International stocks, which had led in recent months, have lost some of their strength.

With the Federal Reserve scheduled to make its next monetary announcement tomorrow afternoon, the big question now facing investors is the direction of interest rates. The recent government shutdown probably slowed economic growth and gave policymakers reason to keep monetary stimulus in place longer. Tomorrow also brings the first estimate on third-quarter economic growth.

The main items on today's calendar are the release of September retail sales at 8:30 a.m. ET and the Case-Shiller index of home prices at 9 a.m. While retail sales can normally move stocks, their impact could be dulled this month because they're being released later than normal.

Commodities and foreign-exchange markets are sounding a mildly cautious tone this morning, with oil, precious metals, the euro and Australian dollar all lower. The yen is down against the greenback but higher against most other currencies. Copper is bucking the nervousness with a small gain.

In company-specific news, NutriSystem is indicated sharply higher after releasing strong quarterly results. Pfizer is little changed on a mixed report. Hartford Financial rose after the bell yesterday after earnings and revenue solidly beat estimates.

DISCLOSURE: I OWN HIG SHARES
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