Options Trading News

April 21, 2014  Mon 7:15 AM CT

Stocks are inching higher again today as investors anticipate a deluge of first-quarter results.

S&P 500 futures are up almost 0.15 percent, while the Nasdaq 100 is up about 0.35 percent. Italy and Spain are gaining less than 0.5 percent, while London, Frankfurt, and Paris are closed for Easter Monday. Asia was mixed overnight, with Shanghai down 1.5 percent but Mumbai climbing more than 0.5 percent to a record high.

The S&P 500 has been in a range all year, following a huge rally in 2013. Investors have increasingly embraced data showing strength in the United States economy, but established leadership sectors like health care, Internet stocks, and consumer discretionaries have lost momentum. At the same time, capital has been shifting into global-growth stocks, especially in energy and emerging markets.

Attention now focuses on a heavy roster of corporate earnings this week. Halliburton is already up 1 percent after revenue and net income beat expectations. Hasbro, Kimberly-Clark, and SunTrust Banks are also on the agenda this morning. Netflix.com and Rambus follow after the closing bell.

The Chicago Federal Reserve's activity index at 8:30 a.m. ET is the only economic headline scheduled today.

McDonald's, Travelers, United Technologies, Xerox, and Lexmark report earnings tomorrow morning, followed by Amgen, Juniper Networks, Yum Brands and AT&T in the afternoon. Technology heavyweights Apple and Qualcomm announce quarter results Wednesday afternoon, while Microsoft and Amazon.com are scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The last month's rally in energy stocks is widespread, according to our researchLAB analysis tool, encompassing shale drillers, liquefied natural-gas tankers, frackers, and wildcatters. Latin American utilities, banks, and food stocks have also been strong. On the flip side, 3-D printing, solar energy, retailers, and biotech have lagged.

Despite recent weakness in pharmaceuticals, the group has bullish news this morning: Sarepta Therapeutics surged more than 80 percent after the Food and Drug Administration provided guidance on how the company's main product can potentially be approved. The stock cratered in November when an application for the medicine was rejected.

AstraZeneca is also up 6 percent on a report in the Sunday Times that Pfizer is considering a $101 billion takeover of the British drug giant.

Commodities are mostly lower, with oil down one-third of a percent while precious metals and grains are off about 1 percent. Copper is down the least. Foreign-exchange trading is more bullish, with the safe-haven Japanese yen posting small losses across the board.
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