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After The Close - Stocks opened higher this morning, and continued to advance through much of the afternoon. At the end of the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead about 115 points; the S&P 500 Index was up 15 points, and the NASDAQ was better by 51 points. Market breadth was quite positive, as advancers outnumbered decliners by a comfortable margin on the NYSE. Almost all of the equity sectors pressed ahead, with leadership in the energy and technology stocks. Meanwhile, the basic materials issues lost considerable ground today.

Meanwhile, it was a quiet day for economic news. However, tomorrow we will receive a full batch of reports. Specifically, we will get a look at the November retail sales, the Consumer Price Index, as well as a report on industrial production. Further, at 2PM (EST), the FOMC will conclude its two-day meeting with an interest-rate decision and offer some prepared remarks. For those carefully following the market swings throughout the day, stocks may well make a pronounced move in response to this release. However, the majority of traders are already anticipating a small rate increase, and won’t likely be caught off guard by such a decision. Elsewhere, Thursday will also bring plenty of economic news.

Finally, in the corporate arena, a few companies posted quarterly reports over the past 24 hours. Of note, shares of VeriFone Systems (PAY) moved up in response to a better-than-expected report. Meanwhile, Hexcel (HXL) stock slipped after the materials company provided a soft business outlook. 

Technically, stocks continue to make solid progress. Most of the major averages are at record high ground, and this may hold some psychological significance with retail investors and will likely be the subject of media coverage. - 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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12:15 PM EST - U.S. stocks were generally higher early Tuesday, with the major indices exhibiting solid gains. The NASDAQ has led the way so far in trading, setting a new intraday trading high as it continues to edge closer to the 5,500-point threshold. Though advancers and decliners were roughly equal for most of the morning, strength from large-cap stocks has kept the averages in positive territory for the morning, offsetting a general pullback amongst the mid- and small-cap sectors.

Most of the ten major market sectors entered the midday in the plus column. In fact, only basic materials was mired in the red, due in large part to investors closing their financial positions after reaping outsized gains since the U.S. Presidential Election. The grouping has been one of the bigger beneficiaries of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, in addition to financials and industrials. The latter shed several points this morning, while banking stocks were buoyed by Fed-related optimism. On top of the ongoing post-election rally, a plethora economic reports will be made available this week. Starting tomorrow, when retail sales, producer prices, and industrial activity are updated, investors will have plenty to digest. New figures on housing, employment, and building permits will offer more visibility thereafter.

Still, the dominant storyline this week will be The Federal Reserve’s meeting on interest rates, which began this morning. The market has ostensibly priced in a 25 basis-point increase, and most expect the announcement to occur around midday tomorrow. Investors will also be looking for further visibility on the central bank’s near-term strategy for federal funds. After neglecting to raise rates for a full year, many are hoping a concrete plan is laid out to combat inflation throughout 2017.

Oil prices, meanwhile, have pulled back a little today, as investors take profits after several days of a supply-cut related run up. Still, prospects remain high in the global energy space. OPEC was able to implement a production cap across its member nations, and has been successful at recruiting outside countries to comply. Russia and other exporters agreed to a 1.8 million barrel-per-day limit, which ought to push crude prices much higher in the coming months.

The afternoon could see some profit taking in certain areas, but the Fed remains the main focus for investors until at least tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned. – Robert Harrington

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 - Wall Street sprinted into the latest week hoping to extend the powerful rally in place since the November election, an upsurge that intensified mightily last week, when the major large-cap indexes all surged to all-time highs in a buying frenzy unleashed by expectations that the President-elect and his incoming Administration would push hard for a massive infrastructure spending program, reduced regulations, and popular tax cuts. 

However, after the stock markets in Asia (especially in China) and Europe largely failed to respond with further gains early in the day, our market got off to a mixed start. Specifically, the Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed up past 19,800 in some early buying and led the way selectively higher during the first hours of the session. But the Dow's gain was narrowly configured and led mostly by the two energy behemoths, Chevron (CVX - Free Chevron Stock Report) and Exxon Mobil (XOM - Free Exxon Mobil Stock Report). Elsewhere, the blue chip component struggled, but managed to retain a positive result throughout the session, thanks to the aforementioned gains in energy.

But it was another story for the rest of the market, where the NASDAQ, another recent winner, saw some notable profit taking that intensified for a time as the session unfolded. Underscoring the mixed-to-lower tone that emerged over the course of the day--not only was the NASDAQ off by nearly 50 points at its nadir--but the small-cap Russell 2000 had turned down by more than a full percentage points, as well, as losing stocks held a strong lead over gaining issues throughout.

Behind this unprepossessing market tone was a further spike in bond yields, to just over 2.50% on the 10-year Treasury note early in the day and to near 3.20% on the companion 30-year Treasury bond. Concerns about the Federal Reserve, which will commence its two-day FOMC meeting this morning, and likely end the gathering with an interest-rate increase and worries about looming inflation contributed to the poorer trend yesterday, as did some overdue profit taking. But the profit takers were not out in the oil patch, as oil prices and the underlying equities, continued to rally for much of the day.

Meanwhile, there also is a full plate of economic news this week, but all of that, and the latest rise in oil quotations following the agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC oil members on production cutbacks, probably will take a backseat to the Fed. Not only will market watchers keep a close eye on what the lead bank does, but they also will pay close attention to what the Fed says about its future monetary course, which we now think will include some three rate increases each in 2017 and 2018. For now, though, we would be very surprised if the central bank did not tighten the monetary reins tomorrow afternoon. 

As to the economy, which seems to be more than holding its own now, the calendar, as noted, is quite full, with tomorrow featuring data on retail sales, producer prices, and industrial production. Then, Thursday will see reports on consumer prices and jobless claims, while the week will conclude on Friday with reports on November housing starts and building permits. These reports and the latest on oil, should play a role in trading this week, but still have a secondary place after the Fed.

Meantime, the equity market spent the latter stages of the afternoon in negative territory, albeit modestly off the session lows. At the close, the Dow had managed to hold onto a 40-point gain, bringing that index up to just shy of 19,800. However, the S&P 500 Index eased by three points; the NASDAQ fell 32 points; and the Russell 2000 was 15 points lower, while declining stocks retained their formidable lead.     

Looking ahead now to a new day and to the start of the FOMC meeting, we see that stocks were modestly higher in Asia overnight, with the gains generally less than half a percentage point. Equities also are doing well in Europe so far this morning, with the bourses generally ahead by half a percentage point, or more. Our futures, too, are higher, with the gains on the order of a third of a percentage point. At the same time, oil quotations are a little higher, while notes and bond yields are off several ticks as we await the Fed.   - Harvey S. Katz

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