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After the Close - The stock market put in a weak session today, but  managed to recover little lost ground by the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished off 106 points (-0.7%); the broader S&P 500 Index was lower by 10 points (-0.6%); and the NASDAQ ended off 22 points (-0.6%). Market breadth was slightly negative, as declining stocks outnumbered advancers by a modest margin on the NYSE. Most of the market sectors traded lower today, with pronounced losses in the financial, energy, and basic materials issues. Meanwhile, the utility stocks, which have been battered lately, actually advanced.

Technically, the S&P 500 Index rallied sharply yesterday, bouncing off its 50-day moving average located at about 1,614. That move was accompanied by decent volumes, which implies some broad participation by traders. The pullback in the market today is not too surprising, especially as we head into the weekend. 

The economic news released today probably did little to help the markets. The Producer Price Index for May rose a bit more than anticipated, but the core figure met expectations. Industrial production was unchanged in May. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment number for June was largely uninspiring. Looking ahead, traders will be carefully scrutinizing any remarks coming from the Fed, as the FOMC meeting takes place in the middle of next week. Lately, traders, many of who utilize leveraged strategies, have been very sensitive to the possibility of rising interest rates and any shift in the Fed’s asset purchasing program. Ultimately, they are looking for both an improving economy, as well as a low-interest rate environment, two things that don’t often go hand in hand for long. Further, the housing market will also be an area of focus for traders next week, as we will receive May housing starts and building permits data on Tuesday, then existing home sales figures on Thursday. The housing market recovery, which seems to be sustainable, remains crucial to the health of the broader economy.

The corporate news was light today, but as we start to wrap up the second quarter, some companies will likely be making earnings pre-announcements or fine tuning their guidance. This earnings season will be important as stocks are likely trading at price-to-earnings multiples that are a bit elevated and many traders are looking for some direction.  - Adam Rosner

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

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12:20 PM EDT - The major U.S. stock indexes all opened modestly on the downside as they began the final session of the week. The Dow Jones Industrials, S&P 500, and NASDAQ all managed to rally to the plus side briefly, but as we passed the noon hour in New York all three were trading at their low points for the day, with declines hovering at around half a percentage point.

Economic news has been mixed this morning. A somewhat benign report on wholesale inflation was issued by the Labor Department indicating that the overall producer price index was up 0.5 percent in May. The forecast among economists was that prices would rise 0.1 percent, following the 0.7 percent drop in April. This was joined by a reported modest decline in consumer sentiment for June. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary read on the index fell 180 basis points, to 82.7 for June. The consensus expectation was that it would stay at May’s 84.5 level. However, this marked the second highest level for the indicator since last October. Finally, the Fed reported that factory output managed to squeeze out a 0.1 percent gain in May, after two straight months of contraction.

Over across the Atlantic, market action has been a bit more favorable. The major bourses in Europe gave back some of their gains after employment data showed the number of people working in the Eurozone declined 0.5% in the first quarter. However, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX, and France’s CAC 40 all managed to hold on for modest gains on the trading day. -Mario Ferro

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

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Stocks to Watch from The SurveyCorporate news is rather light ahead of the bell this morning, though there are a few stocks that could see active trading today. Indeed, shares of Casey’s General Stores (CASY) are down slightly in the premarket, after the convenience store operator released April-period sales and earnings that came in a bit below investors’ expectations, due in part to inclement weather and a difficult environment for cigarette sales. On the bright side, the company increased its quarterly cash dividend 9%, to $0.18 a share. Also on the earnings front, April-quarter results from pork producer Smithfield Foods (SFD) have been met with a collective yawn on Wall Street, despite the fact that earnings fell well shy of estimates. Smithfield has agreed to be acquired by industry peer Shuanghui Holdings, which is based in China, so the issue is not currently trading on earnings news. Finally, the stock of Smith & Wesson (SWHC) is indicating a higher opening this morning, after the firearms manufacturer reported preliminary April-quarter results that were better than expected. – Matthew E. Spencer 

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

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Before The Bell - The final day of trading this week on Wall Street will soon begin, with stocks coming off an impressive rally on Thursday. Worries that had seeped in earlier in the week were at least temporarily dispersed yesterday, as economic data on labor market and retail sales provided investors with another milepost that the U.S. economic recovery was on track.

All told, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 181 points, retaking the 15,000 level that it surpassed for the first time in history last month. The NASDAQ posted a strong showing, as well, moving up 45 points. Both the Dow and the NASDAQ are up by mid-teen percentages this year, a very impressive showing, but one that now leaves room for occasional pullbacks. In fact, the Dow enters today down slightly for the week. The greater number of stocks hitting new 52-week lows than highs on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday was indicative of the recent selling.

As for this morning, stock markets around the globe seem to be taking heart from yesterday’s rally on Wall Street. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, in particular, put in a nice 2% gain, recovering from some steep losses in the past couple of weeks. But it is a bit surprising that Japan is getting as much attention as it has lately, given that it has been a nonfactor in the equity markets for the past two decades. Meantime, gains in Europe are less pronounced, and it wouldn’t be too surprising if the exchanges over there followed the lead set stateside today.

Investors received word this morning that inflation at the wholesale level was 0.5% in May, but a more subdued 0.1% at the so-called core rate, which excludes food and energy prices. Year-over-year, the both the core rate and the unadjusted rate rose by 1.7%. May’s core rate, the number Wall Street usually places the most weight on, was in line with expectations.

More data coming up prior to the opening bell that could influence the market’s direction at the start of trading include reports on U.S. Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization.

Investors may have to wait until next week to get more clarity on Federal Reserve policy, though. Worries that the Fed will pull back on some its stimulus have contributed to the market’s recent volatility.

At the moment, the futures are pointing to an uneventful opening. - Robert Mitkowski

At the time this article was written, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.