Stocks have recovered from a recent slip so that the S&P 500 is now back near its session high. Financials continue to provide leadership as they sport a gain in excess of 2%.
Within the 81-member financial sector, only IntercontinentalExchange (ICE 131.76, -2.96), Assurant (AIZ 38.50, -0.55), and NYSE Euronext (NYX 35.15, -0.44) are in the red. Bank of America (BAC 14.64, +0.61) is still a primary leader in the financial space.
The euro fell the most in two weeks against the dollar as concern the region’s leaders won’t agree on a solution to its debt crisis damped appetite for its assets.
The 17-nation currency retreated from almost the strongest level in nine months against the yen. Financing costs rose as Greece sold 1.625 billion euros ($2.3 billion) of treasury bills a day after having its credit rating cut by Moody’s Investors Service.
“It’s a combination of overextended speculative positioning and renewed sovereign-debt jitters,” said Vassili Serebriakov, a currency strategist at Wells Fargo & Co. in New York. “The post-ECB rally has gone too far too fast and the euro is coming back to the reality of still very uncertain prospects for the peripheral economies.”
The euro, which has risen 3.9 percent against the dollar this year, has struggled to extend its advance beyond $1.40 as European Union leaders clashed about how to deal with the sovereign-debt crisis that forced Ireland and Greece to seek financial aid last year. The 27-nation EU intends to approve a “comprehensive” package of measures at a March 24-25 summit in a bid to calm bond markets.
Austria opposes easing conditions of bailouts sought by Ireland and Greece, Chancellor Werner Faymann told reporters today in Vienna.
OPEC surplus is 4.1m bpd.
The Nasdaq had lagged both the Dow and S&P 500 in the early going, but it has since caught up with counterparts so that all three of the major headline indices sport strong gains. Large-cap tech issues, which had been weak at the onset of trade, are now in strong shape. As such, Oracle (ORCL 32.55, +0.45), Google (GOOG 595.34, +3.68), and Microsoft (MSFT 25.86, +0.14) are leaders.
The recent broad market bounce and pullback in oil prices have helped airline socks ascend to a 3.6% gain, as measured by the Amex Airline Index. In a similar vein, the Dow Jones Transports Index is up 2.0%.
EUR/USD $1.3850(lge), $1.3835, $1.3830, $1.3900
USD/JPY Y82.00, Y82.25, Y82.50, Y83.00, Y83.50
AUD/USD $1.0050, $1.0060, $1.0080, $1.0100, $1.0110, $1.0125
Financial stocks have run ahead to a collective 1.2% gain. Bank of America (BAC 14.22, +0.19) has been a leader in the move, but regional plays Regions Financial (RF 7.48, +0.07) and PNC Financial (PNC 61.67, +0.97) have complemented the effort.
Leadership from the financial sector has helped lift the broader market out of negative territory. Recent pressure against oil prices has also been a catalyst for broad market buying.
Offers: $1.3930, $1.3940/45, $1.3980/85, $1.3990/4000, $1.4035/50
Bids: $1.3880, $1.3865/60, $1.3835/30
Offers: Y82.80, Y83.00/05, Y83.50
Bids: Y82.00, Y81.50
As of the first few minutes of trade, the Nasdaq is underperforming its counterparts for the second straight session. Its weakness stems largely from losses among large-cap tech issues as well as renewed selling interest against semiconductor stocks (-0.8%).
Energy stocks have been hit with some of the stiffest selling pressure, though. The sector is already down 1.1%. Pressure therein is largely the result of a recent downturn in oil prices, which are now at $104 per barrel with a 1.3% loss.
Financials are showing strength, however. The sector is up to an enviable 0.6% gain as bank stocks and diversified financial services plays attract bidders.
U.S. stocks were set for a mixed open Tuesday, following a broad retreat in the previous session, as oil prices eased.
Investors are keeping a close eye on developments out of Libya and oil prices, which have surged lately. Earlier this morning, oil fell after reports said Moammar Gadhafi is trying to strike a deal with opposition leaders to step down and flee the country safely.
Meanwhile, gold prices rose $1.70 to $1,436.20 an ounce. Gold settled at a fresh record high of $1,434.50 an ounce Monday, as investors sought safety in the precious metal.
With no economic data on the agenda, investors are likely to remain focused on geopolitical developments and oil prices.
Companies: Urban Outfitters (URBN) shares fell 12% in pre-market trading, after the retailer reported profit that widely missed forecasts, saying its margins were hit by increased markdowns.
Starbucks (SBUX) begins rolling out its new logo Tuesday, as the coffee company celebrates its 40th anniversary this week. Starbucks shares were unchanged in premarket trading.
Morgan Stanley (MS) is considering dropping the Smith Barney name from its brokerage business, according to sources cited in the Wall Street Journal.
Boston Beer (SAM), the maker of Samuel Adams beer, and retailer J. Crew (JCRW) are scheduled to release quarterly results after the closing bell.
Marked lows at $1.3912 before recovering back, spec shorts covering ahead of the NY open. Rate currently trades around $1.3930. Next support of noted seen between $1.3900/1.3890.
Germany releases factory orders data for Jan at 11:00 GMT.
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