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After The Close - Equities opened nicely higher this morning, advanced further in the early afternoon, before easing slightly at the end of the session. At the close of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead roughly 143 points; the broader S&P 500 Index was up 12 points; and the NASDAQ was higher by nearly 30 points. Market breadth was favorable, with winners comfortably ahead of losers on the NYSE. Essentially all of the major equity sectors pressed ahead today, with notable gains in the technology and basic materials issues. In contrast, the telecommunications names and energy stocks lagged the broader market.

There were no major economic reports released today. Tomorrow will be a somewhat light day for economic news, as well. Specifically, the only official report to be issued will be the Producer Price Index for the month of January. However, some traders may be watching, as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivers a presentation to Congress. The pace will pick up quite a bit on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the fourth-quarter corporate reporting season continues. Over the past 24 hours, a handful companies weighed in with their results. Specifically, shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA) moved up, after the generic drug maker delivered better-than-anticipated numbers. Moreover, shares of Tower Semiconductor (TSEM) advanced in response to an encouraging release.

Technically, stocks have been making marked progress lately. In addition to a decent earnings season, traders seem optimistic that the new political Administration will promote a business friendly agenda. - Adam Rosner

At the time of this article’s writing, the author had positions in Teva (TEVA)

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12:40 PM EST - The bulls were out in force on Monday morning, continuing a multiday streak of market dominance that began on Thursday. As has been the case for several weeks now, largely positive earnings reports, coupled with ongoing optimism that the Trump Administration’s economic policies can reinvigorate growth, are the driving forces for the morning’s gains. Each of the three major indices have set new intraday trading highs, with the tech-laden NASDAQ benefiting from strength at Apple (AAPL - Free Apple Stock Report).

The rally is being propelled, in large part, by optimism ahead of President Trump’s promised unveiling of his tax plan. While details remain somewhat scarce, traders expect a significant overhaul that could bring about a period of sustained and accelerated earnings growth for American corporations. This is yet another aspect of the President’s planned policies that has helped to push the market to its current peak level. Accordingly, financials and industrials were two of the best performing sectors during this morning’s broad-based run up.

Meanwhile, domestic oil prices took a hit to open the week. U.S. crude oil per-barrel slipped nearly 2% at one point, as a rise in U.S. drilling has muted recent optimism stemming from OPEC output cuts. The compliance seen from many of the cartel member nations has been encouraging, but was ostensibly priced in after last week’s rally. Thus, the energy sector remained in the red after the morning hours.

Looking ahead to the rest of the week, earnings ought to play a bigger role in trading as the week matures. Heavy hitters from the banking, telecom, and energy sectors will report tomorrow, while PepsiCo (PEP), Cisco (CSCO - Free Cisco Stock Report), Kraft Heinz (KHC), CBS Corp. (CBS), and Marathon Oil (MRO) will announce December-period results on Wednesday. Also likely to move the needle are several updates from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and several of central bank colleagues, and a slate of  business data releases on labor, production, housing, and manufacturing.

For the rest of the day, with many stocks trading near their all-time highs, we expect to see some resistance from profit takers. Still, with the wide gains exhibited by the key averages, as well as a 1.7-to-1 edge held by advancing stocks, the bears will have their work cut out in the afternoon. - Robert Harrington

At the time of this writing, the author did not have a position in any of the companies mentioned.

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Before The Bell - The most recent five-day stretch of trading was a terrific one for the bulls, as all of the major equity averages ended the week at record levels. It was another President Trump rally that pushed the indexes to their new apexes. The buying picked up considerably over the final two trading sessions, coinciding with commentary from President Trump that he expects to unveil a comprehensive tax-reform plan within the next three weeks. Investors believe that significant tax cuts, especially on the corporate level, would be a boon for U.S corporations, and will ultimately spur significant economic growth stateside. The business friendly headlines pushed Wall Street to record levels.

On Friday, the move higher was not as significant as Thursday’s President Trump-driven rally, but it was another notable win for the emboldened bulls. For the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the NASDAQ, and the broader S&P 500 Index finished with respective gains of 97, 19, and eight points. Friday’s gains were rather inclusive, as the small and mid-cap sectors also finished the day nicely higher. Market breadth clearly favored the bulls, as advancing issues led decliners by more than two-to-one on both the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. From a sector perspective, all of the 10 major equity groups, save for the consumer staples category, finished in positive territory. The leadership came from the commodities groups (i.e., basic materials and energy), as well as the consumer discretionary stocks.

While it was primarily a Trump Administration fueled rally on Wall Street last week, there were some other factors that helped the bulls. The fourth-quarter earnings season, which is starting to wind down, was good again for stocks. Of note, Walt Disney (DIS - Free Disney Stock Report) stock moved higher after the entertainment giant and Dow-30 component reported strong December-quarter results. The S&P 500 companies have reported earnings growth of around 9% this quarter, and the expectation on Wall Street is that the figure may rise in the coming periods, as corporate tax cuts, promised once again last week by the Trump Administration, are implemented.

Meantime, the news from the business beat was very quiet last week, with the only report of note coming from the government on the international trade gap. But to say that the economy did not have any effect on trading last week would not be right. Indeed, the market gains were helped again by the Federal Reserve’s decision earlier this month to hold interest rates steady, near record lows. Although the nation added more than 220,000 jobs last month, the central bank noted that still very modest inflation is not putting much pressure on it to raise rates. The low interest-rate environment, an encouraging earnings season, and a business-friendly White House is proving to be the perfect cocktail for the investment community.

Turning to the new trading week at hand, the news from the business beat will pick up, starting with tomorrow’s report on producer (wholesale) prices. We will also get data on consumer prices, industrial production, housing starts, and retail sales. The retail sales data, along with quarterly results from many of the nation’s retailers beginning to roll in this week, may well put a spotlight on the retailing sector, where many companies have already disappointed with weak sales figures for the all-important holiday shopping season. Given this data, we recommend that investors keep a close eye on the consumer discretionary sector, where we may see some notable stock moves over the next five trading days.

With less than an hour to go before the commencement of the new trading week stateside, the equity futures are presaging a continuation of the buying on Wall Street when the U.S. equity market opens at 9:30 A.M. (EST). So far today, it has been a buying spree overseas, with the main indexes in Asia finishing higher overnight and the major European bourses in positive territory as trading moves into the second half of the session on the Continent. Investors appear to be still betting on President Trump and his promises of business friendly policies, including tax cuts and regulation rollbacks. Stay tuned.   - William G. Ferguson 

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.