Market holding its breath for reports
David Russell | email@example.com
Futures on the S&P 500 are higher by just half a point, following similar moves in Europe and Asia. The one noteworthy development overseas was another gain of more than 1 percent in Shanghai as Chinese stocks continue to rebound from long-term lows. The rally comes despite continued slowing in the country's service industries, according to their September purchasing managers' index.
Attention is focusing on economic news that begins at 8:15 a.m. ET today, when ADP issues its monthly private-sector payroll report. It's followed by the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index at 10 a.m. ET. (See related story)
The first of four presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will also take place tonight. Given that it may shape the tone of the campaigns over the next two months, some traders may be hesitant to take risks before it airs--regardless of the outcome.
Stocks have been advancing on extremely low volatility for months as investors cautiously put money to work following repeated crises in recent years. More important news follows tomorrow, when retailers report September same-store sales, the Labor Department issues weekly jobless claims, and the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its last meeting.
Friday morning has even bigger headlines, with monthly non-farm payrolls and European gross domestic product.
Commodities and currencies are showing a mild pattern of risk aversion, with the U.S. dollar higher against the euro, Canadian dollar, and Australian dollar. The yen, however, is weaker across the board.
Oil, copper and most agricultural products are lower, while gold and silver are posting modest gains. Natural gas is down by almost 2 percent following a gain of more than 10 percent in the last month.
In company-specific news, hard-drive components maker Xyratex fell more than 15 percent after earnings missed estimates and management said demand was falling in its enterprise business. Its customers include EMC, Seagate Technology, and Western Digital.
Intermune also advanced 10 percent last night after Canadian regulators approved marketing of its Esbriet lung drug, but the stock hasn't traded yet this morning.