Wednesday's session has been a relatively quiet news day. Stocks saw some profit taking after the two-day bounce but even now traders are buying the dip and stocks are recovering from their lows. The tone of the market seems to be one of waiting for earnings season. Dow-component Alcoa (AA) is due to kick off earnings season tonight after the closing bell. Analysts' estimates forecast a nine-cent loss for AA. Meanwhile gold futures are still climbing in spite of a bounce in the U.S. dollar.

Asian markets were up. The Japanese NIKKEI index gained more than 1% thanks to strength in steel and metal stocks. The Hong Kong Hang Seng soared more than 2% marking its third gain in a row. The Chinese Shanghai is still closed for holiday. Over in Europe the rally took a rest. Stocks were down across the board but the pull back was mild. The energy sector took the biggest toll on stocks. The German DAX lost 0.3%. The French CAC-40 gave up 0.37%. The English FTSE fell 0.57%.

Oil was initially higher this morning. Oddly enough oil reversed when the Energy Information Administration released the weekly oil inventory data that showed a one million barrel decline in inventories. Normally that would have been a bullish report, especially with analysts expecting a 1.9 million rise in inventories. I suspect oil stumbled as investors reacted to a larger than expected build in distillates, which suggest that demand for the finished product is still lagging. Further reinforcing this concern was news from Sunoco who announced they would idle their Eagle Point refinery in New Jersey due to lack of demand. Crude oil futures are down about 2% near $69.30 a barrel.

The Mortgage Bankers Association had some good news for us this morning. The MBA said mortgage applications surged dramatically. The week before they were concerned by the lull in applications in spite of near record low mortgage rates. This past week the trend has reversed with applications soaring to multi-month highs. Refinancing applications saw the biggest gain. The rate for a 30-year fixed has remained under 5% for more than three weeks now.

Glancing at the markets it seems the financial stocks are some of the best performers today. Wells Fargo (WFC) upgraded Bank of America (BAC) and raised their earnings estimates on Goldman Sachs (GS) and J.P.Morgan/Chase (JPM). This is fueling a 0.6% gain in the BKX and BIX banking indices. The HMO healthcare index is also performing well followed by networking stocks.

Currently the S&P 500 index is down less than one point at 1054. The NASDAQ composite is actually up two points at 2105. The Dow Industrials are off about 26 points at 9704. The small cap Russell 2000 index is down about one point at 601.

Let's take a quick look at charts for the major averages:

Chart of the S&P 500:

Chart of the NASDAQ:

Chart of the Dow Industrials:

Chart of the Russell 2000 index:

Scanning the play list for movers today I see that CNX is off 2.1% following its three-day rebound. For the most part stocks are quiet and any movement today has been relatively mild.