MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Point To Higher Open As Dow Looks To Retake 26,000

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Buoyant stock market looks 'extraordinarily stretched,' says strategist

U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday, suggesting the Dow could climb back above the 26,000 level as major indexes looked to trade within striking distance of record levels.

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The corporate earnings season continue to be a primary driver of trading, with financial heavyweights in particular view.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up by 115 points, or 0.5%, to 25,934, while S&P 500 futures added 9.40 points, or 0.3%, to 2,792. Nasdaq-100 futures tacked on 21.50 points, or 0.3%, to 6,783.75.

On Tuesday, the Dow traded above 26,000 for the first time ever, but ended down by less than 0.1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-on-track-for-200-point-jump-putting-26000-within-reach-2018-01-16) after its intraday gain of more than 200 points failed to stick, marking the largest one-day reversal since February 2016. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite finished lower by 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively.

What's driving markets?

The three main equity gauges have risen between 22% and 30% over the past 12 months, helped by factors such as an expanding U.S. economy, growth in corporate profits and enthusiasm over the Trump administration's business-friendly policies, such as tax cuts.

Traders may be waking up to the possibility of a government shutdown this weekend, some analysts said. Lawmakers are hustling to hammer out a deal on immigration seen as key to breaking the deadlock. Without a spending agreement by 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday, the government will partially shut down operations.

Check out:Here's how stocks handled past government shutdowns (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-the-stock-market-has-handled-past-government-shutdowns-2018-01-16)

Several Fed officials are slated to make remarks. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan are due to take part in a discussion at 3:15 p.m. Eastern at an insurance-industry event in Florida. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester is expected to talk about communicating monetary policy at New Jersey's Rutgers University at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Which stocks look like key movers?

Shares in Bank of America Corp.(BAC) were choppy in premarket trading after the giant lender posted quarterly revenue that missed expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bank-of-america-shares-jump-despite-revenue-miss-2018-01-17), though the results were impacted by the recently passed tax bill.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s stock (GS) was 1% lower premarket after the Wall Street icon posted lower profit and revenue for its fourth quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-posts-first-quarterly-loss-in-6-yrs-2018-01-17).

U.S. Bancorp (USB) reported adjusted earnings that were slightly ahead of analyst forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-bank-profit-boosted-by-tax-bill-2018-01-17). The regional bank said the new tax law boosted its profit in the quarter.

General Electric Co.(GE) slumped 2.5% in premarket trading, building on a steep loss seen in Tuesday's session that came after the industrial conglomerate announced a fourth quarter after-tax charge of $6.2 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ge-shocks-market-with-multibillion-dollar-loss-in-legacy-reinsurance-business-2018-01-16) and a $3 billion cash capital contribution to its insurance subsidiary that will grow to $15 billion by 2024.

Financial heavyweight Charles Schwab Corp.(SCHW) is also likely to see active trading as it's among the companies expected to post earnings before the open.

Shares in CSX Corp.(CSX) edged lower by 0.2% premarket after the railroad operator late Tuesday posted adjusted quarterly earnings that topped expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/csx-shares-rise-after-railroad-companys-earnings-beat-expectations-2018-01-16).

Aluminum producer Alcoa Corp.(AA) is due to release results after the close.

What are strategists saying?

"So far so good when it comes to earnings, though the season is still young and valuations are high enough that Wall Street will demand a very good season. If companies do well on profits but not revenue, they could get punished," said Craig Birk, executive vice president of portfolio management at Personal Capital.

Birk added that the lack of volatility in markets had been "stunning," and that "while we don't expect this to continue, we also don't see anything that will bring a shock to the market."

Other analysts stuck a more cautious tone about the market's lofty levels.

Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Financial Group, called the market "extraordinarily stretched" in a note to clients, adding, "only a few times in history has the stock market been this overbought. We know from a variety of sentiment indicators how euphoric the environment has gotten."

Read:Investors should be pessimistic about the rise in stock-market optimism (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/investors-should-be-pessimistic-about-the-rise-in-stock-market-optimism-2018-01-09)

What economic data are coming?

A January figure for a housing market index is slated to arrive at 10 a.m. Eastern, and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book--which offers a deep dive on economic activity--is on tap for 2 p.m. Eastern.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

What are other assets doing?

European stocks traded lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-follow-wall-street-into-the-red-as-burberry-falls-short-2018-01-17), while Asian markets finished mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-slide-lower-following-late-us-selloff-2018-01-16). Gold futures were down slightly, oil futures were slipping, and the ICE U.S. Dollar Index was modestly higher. Bitcoin briefly traded below $10,000 as a selloff for cryptocurrencies continued (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-cryptocurrencies-attempt-to-steady-after-sharp-selloff-2018-01-17).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 17, 2018 09:11 ET (14:11 GMT)

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