Monday is shaping up to be a very quiet day on Wall Street. The major indices are drifting sideways in a very narrow range as investors search for a new catalyst. There was hope that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might share something new while he spoke to the Economic Club of Washington. The early morning strength in the U.S. dollar is fading and has now turned negative but that's not helping the commodities much. Gold and oil are still in negative territory.
Asian markets were mixed. China's annual Central Economic Working Conference was held on Monday. The message coming out of the conference is that China would keep their fiscal policy loose and accommodative. This helped the Shanghai index gain 0.45% marking its fifth gain in the last six sessions. The Hong Kong Hang Seng lost 0.77%. Meanwhile Japan's NIKKEI index added +1.45% and posted its 6th gain in a row thanks to the yen's decline versus the dollar.
European markets were also mixed. The German DAX index lost 0.5% after the country's factory orders fell from a +1.3% gain in September to -2.1% in October. Economists had been expecting a +0.8% gain. This was the first decline in eight months. In England the banking sector weighed on the market as authorities consider a windfall tax on banker's bonus compensation. The English FTSE lost 0.22%. The French CAC-40 outperformed its neighbors with a 1.0% gain.
The early morning strength in the U.S. dollar continued to push commodities lower. Gold lost nearly $25 with a drop toward $1,150 an ounce but has since pared its losses to minus $8. Crude oil is off about 1.2% with a breakdown below the $75.00 a barrel level. Early reports are suggesting that OPEC will not change their production levels when the group meets later this morning.
The best performing sectors today appear to be healthcare (+2.3%) and utilities (+1.0%). Semiconductors are showing some strength too with a +0.7% gain. The worst performers are gold miners (-1.4%), casino-related stocks (-1.2%) and the financials (-0.8%). Currently the S&P 500 index is up less than three points at 1,108. The NASDAQ is up less than two points as it hovers under the 2200 level. The Dow Industrials are up just over 37 points at 10,426. The small cap Russell 2000 index is up about two points at 604.75.
Chart of the S&P 500:
Chart of the NASDAQ:
Chart of the Dow Industrials:
Chart of the Russell 2000 index:
Naturally with the stock market quietly trading sideways we're not seeing much movement on the OptionInvestor.com play list.