Options Trading News

March 27, 2014  Thu 7:05 AM CT


Stocks are inching higher this morning, attempting to rebound from a late slide yesterday.

S&P 500 futures rose less than one-tenth of a percent, while most of Europe is also fractionally higher. Asia was mixed overnight, with Tokyo up 1 percent and Shanghai down almost the same amount. India's Sensex rose half a percent as global investors continue pouring money into Mumbai.

The S&P 500 ended Wednesday's session at 1852 yesterday, its lowest close since March 13. Worries about tensions with Russia were cited as the immediate cause of the drop, but the bigger reason was the stocks have been paused near record highs with few catalysts to push them in either direction for several days.

Today's session has a more active calendar, with revised fourth-quarter gross domestic product and initial jobless claims both due at 8:30 a.m. ET. Next week has several major events, starting with United States manufacturing data on Monday, Chinese and European numbers Tuesday, and private-sector payrolls and European monetary policy Wednesday. It concludes with the key U.S. jobs report Friday.

A shift also appears to be taking place as capital abandons Internet and biotechnology companies that led the market for at least two years. Investors now appear to be targeting beaten down international stocks, along with energy and materials. Semiconductors and makers of computer hardware have also been returning to favor. (See our proprietary researchLAB tool for more.)

In company-specific news, Citigroup is down 6 percent after the Federal Reserve prohibited the bank from raising its dividend or increasing stock buybacks. Paychex is up after reporting strong profit and raising full-year guidance. Baxter International is surging more than 10 percent on plans to split into two companies. Accenture rose modestly despite missing its numbers. Lululemon fell 1 percent after sales lagged consensus. Signet Jewelers is also climbing on strong results. Red Hat's earnings come out this afternoon.

Commodities and currencies are signaling a renewed sense of risk appetite this morning. Copper and oil, both of which benefit from a stronger economy, are pushing higher. The Australian and Canadian dollars, which follow a similar path, are up as well. Assets associated with nervousness -- gold, silver and the Japanese yen -- are down across the board.

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