Stocks edge lower but remain in range
David Russell | [email protected]
Futures on the S&P 500 are down fractionally while the Nasdaq 100 is unchanged. German, French and British markets fell about half a percent as investors continue to wait for news from the European Central Bank on Sept. 6. Chinese stocks fell in the overnight Asian session, while Japan rebounded from a drop on Tuesday.
Traders are also waiting for economic data in the U.S. at 8:30 a.m. ET, when the Commerce Department will report second-quarter gross domestic product. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book follows at 2 p.m.
The time of year is probably even more important than news events as summer vacations slow trading activity to a crawl. Equities have melted higher during July and August, and are now drifting near multiyear highs. On the bearish side, investors see debt problems in Europe and lackluster growth globally. But it's been hard to sell stocks as the economy skirts recession and corporate finances continue to improve.
Foreign exchange and commodities are also showing a modestly bearish sentiment, with the euro down slightly against the greenback. The Australian and Canadian dollars, which also tend to move in unison with equities, also posted small losses. Oil, copper and silver each declined by almost 1 percent, while agricultural foodstuffs were broadly positive.
In individual company news, oil tanker company Frontline dropped about 9 percent in early trading after reporting a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss and predicting worse results in the third quarter.
WellPoint advanced about 4 percent after its unpopular CEO stepped down.