Options Trading News

January 17, 2013  Thu 7:12 AM CT

Stocks are edging higher as the opening bell approaches.

Europe has been climbing in the last hour, lifting S&P 500 futures into positive territory. The U.S. benchmark index is now poised to open with a gain of about 0.1 percent.

The move comes as investors digest a stream of quarterly results from companies including Bank of America and Citigroup, plus key economic data on housing starts and initial jobless claims. They're also preparing for big news this evening when semiconductor giant Intel reports earnings and China releases gross domestic product.

The S&P 500 has stubbornly held its ground in the last week, with few sellers looking to exit positions near a multi-year high. Economic data continues to show global expansion, a trend confirmed by strength in risk-sensitive sectors such as transports, small caps, and emerging markets.

The market now appears to be looking toward a second phase of growth, which could be making investors hopeful of better conditions in the second half--even if companies provide conservative outlooks this earnings season.

The euro is also rallying across the board after Spain's borrowing costs fell once again at an auction today, while the Japanese yen is down sharply in continuation of its recent selloff. Both moves are positive for sentiment because the euro is usually associated with risk appetite. The opposite is true for the yen.

Commodities are painting a modestly bullish picture as well, with oil climbing about 0.5 percent and copper up 0.25 percent. Precious metals are down slightly, while agricultural products are mixed.

In company-specific news, Bank of America and Citigroup are down more than 2 percent and 3 percent respectively after reporting fourth-quarter earnings. BAC beat expectations, while C missed.

CBS is indicated higher by almost 10 percent after announcing it would convert its billboard assets into a real-estate investment trust. The news follows bullish call buying in CBS several times during the last week.

Boeing is indicated lower by almost 2 percent after several airlines grounded its 787 Dreamliners to check electrical problems. Columbia Sportswear is indicated lower by almost 8 percent after guiding its fourth quarter lower.
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