Stocks retreat before wave of earnings
David Russell | [email protected]
The S&P 500 is indicated to open down fractionally amid small declines in Europe. Asian indexes were mixed but mostly negative overnight.
Equities have been plowing higher for the last two months, bringing the S&P 500 to its highest level since late 2007. The Dow Jones Transport Index and Russell 2000 both closed at all-time highs on Friday. (U.S. markets were closed yesterday for Martin Luther King Day.)
Investors are now preparing for a big day of corporate results, led by blue chips such as Verizon Communications, Travelers, Johnson & Johnson, Google, Texas Instruments, and IBM. Today will also see regional economic indexes from the Chicago and Richmond Federal Reserve Banks, plus existing home sales for December.
Macro news overseas was mixed. The Bank of Japan delayed open-ended asset purchases until next year, disappointing some bulls who had expected more immediate money-printing. That has the yen higher across the board, which often weighs on stocks and commodities. Germany's ZEW index of investor sentiment, however, leapt to 31.5, crushing forecasts for a reading of about 10.
Trading in the foreign-exchange and commodity markets is mixed. While the strong Japanese yen is signaling risk aversion, the euro and Australian dollar are higher against the greenback. Oil and copper are trying to in higher and most agricultural foodstuffs are climbing. Precious metals are little changed.
In company-specific news, VZ is down by more than 2 percent after taking a big charge related to employee benefits. TRV is up 3 percent after its earnings crushed estimates. JNJ is down 1 percent after its profit beat consensus but revenue missed.