It remains to be seen whether stock markets will take a breather following a days-long rally, and ahead of a week filled with developments at the U.S. Federal Reserve, a handful of big-ticket earnings announcements and economic data.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or DJIA, were flat while those on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.06 percent, and futures on the Nasdaq Composite Index were down 0.14 percent.
Last week, the DJIA rose 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 Index gained 0.5 percent to end a fifth straight week of gains while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell less than 0.1 percent. On Friday, the DJIA rose 1 percent to end at yet another record closing high while the S&P 500 gained 1.3 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1.6 percent.
On the corporate earnings front, although the current calendar is past its peak, the week does have some high-profile names including Hologic Inc. (NASDAQ:HOLX) and News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), both of which are scheduled to announce third-quarter eanrings after market hours on Monday.
On the Fed’s calendar is Chairman Ben Bernanke’s town-hall meeting with educators in Washington on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST, which will be watched with interest, as usual, for hints about the central bank’s take on the nation’s economy and the future of monetary policy. Thursday brings Senate confirmation hearings for Janet Yellen, who is expected to be as dovish as her predecessor when she takes over the Fed.
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“We expect that the [Senate Banking] Committee will approve her nomination, which would allow a full vote to take place in the Senate,” Paul Dales of Capital Economics, wrote in a note, adding, “But more interesting will be whether Yellen provides any hints of if she wants tapering to take place sooner or later.”
According to the Capital Economics note, last week’s non-farm payrolls data, which showed the economy added 204,000 jobs in October and calmed fears of the government shutdown’s effect on unemployment, will fuel speculation that the Fed might begin to taper its asset purchases in December.
In Europe, markets were mildly positive after five straight weeks of gains, MarketWatch reported, and the Stoxx Europe 600 index and London’s FTSE were both up 0.16 percent. France's CAC-40 was trading up 0.28 percent while Germany's DAX-30 was up 0.16 percent.
In Asia, markets were mostly mixed with Japan’s Nikkei ending up 1.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 0.25 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.38 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 1.43 percent and the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.16 percent. India’s BSE Sensex was down 0.85 percent after the country’s trade deficit widened more than expected.