Options Trading News

July 23, 2013  Tue 7:14 AM CT

Stocks are climbing again today as momentum continues to favor the bulls.

S&P 500 futures have been climbing in the last hour and are now up about 0.2 percent, matching gains of a similar magnitude in Germany, France, and Britain. There seems to be a pattern of growing risk-appetite because the more volatile European countries of Italy and Spain are up almost 1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.

Asia was also strong in the overnight session, led by a 2 percent rally in China and a move of almost 1 percent in Tokyo.

The S&P 500 inched higher again yesterday, its sixth record close in the last eight sessions. Stocks have been gaining steadily as capital returns to the market following years of exile in fixed income and as indicators show continued recovery in the economy. Gains have been broadly dispersed across sectors, with no single group dominating.

We're also entering the busiest phase of earnings season, and at least three themes have emerged so far. First is strength in the financial sector, exemplified by names such as Citigroup, Bank of America, and JP Morgan. Second is growing demand for big-ticket consumer durable items, demonstrated by motor-home makers such as Winnebago and appliance companies like Whirlpool. Third has been stronger industrial demand, witnessed by General Electric, Lennox, and Ingersoll-Rand.

In addition to those catalysts, emerging-market stocks and metals are trying to bottom following a multi-year slide. There are also few economic reports today or tomorrow that could affect sentiment. Thursday is the busiest day this week in terms of events, with durable-goods orders, initial jobless claims, and Germany's Ifo survey of business confidence.

Commodities are mostly lower as metals pull back from a strong rally yesterday. Gold fell almost 1 percent and silver declined almost 2 percent, while copper is down less than one-third of a percent. Oil is lower, but the declines are much sharper for West Texas than Brent crude, which is potentially bullish for refining stocks such as Valero Energy and Phillips 66.

The main theme in the foreign-exchange market is weakness in the Japanese yen, which also tends to be a positive for broader sentiment.

Many stocks are moving on company-specific news. Texas Instruments rose after providing a sanguine outlook for semiconductor demand. Netflix fell after is subscriber growth missed some estimates. Insurance giant Travelers rose as fewer catastrophic losses boosted profit. United Technologies beat estimates, and DuPont said it may spin off or sell its performance-chemicals unit.
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