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March 6, 2014  Thu 7:10 AM CT

SPX: SEE CHART GET CHAIN FIND STRATEGIES
Stocks are inching higher this morning after holding their ground near record levels yesterday.

S&P 500 futures are up almost 0.2 percent. European markets are stronger across the board, with the higher risk countries of Spain and Italy up the most. Asia climbed in the overnight session, led by a 1.6 percent gain in Tokyo. Currencies also reflect a bullish sentiment, with the Japanese yen down while the Australian dollar and euro are climbing.

The S&P 500 made a new intraday closing high of 1876.53 yesterday before closing fractionally lower. Its gains have been fueled by large amounts of cash on the sidelines and strengthening economic data. A benign monetary and political backdrop has also helped.

The European Central Bank and Bank of England, for instance, left interest rates unchanged near record lows. Diplomatic talks have also begun in hopes of resolving the Ukraine crisis.

Attention now turns to initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. Finisar, H&R Block, and Qihoo 360 Technology also report earnings after the closing bell tonight. Tomorrow morning brings the Labor Department's key monthly non-farms payroll report.

The last week has been a shift in leadership toward transportation and financial stocks, while energy, technology and utilities have lagged. In particular, our researchLAB market-analysis tool shows money flowing into ocean-shipping companies, oil tankers, brokerage firms, government-sponsored enterprises, and financial exchanges. Chinese Internet and gaming companies, along with solar and social-media, have also been regaining longer-term momentum.

In company-specific news, Staples is down 10 percent after earnings and sales missed estimates. Mining-equipment maker Joy Global rose slightly despite weak results. Sangamo Biosciences is surging 22 percent after a study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that its technology will be effective in the treatment of HIV.

Crude oil, precious metals, and agricultural foodstuffs are all posting small losses. Copper rose fractionally and natural-gas is up 1 percent.
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