daytrading nov 21 pre-market

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    Morning traders.

    Market wrap:

    Stocks face a flat start following a mixed session on Wall Street after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke demanded Congress end the uncertainty over the US fiscal cliff.

    The December SPI 200 futures contract finished the night session two points or less than 0.1% ahead at 4400 as oil and most metals were weakened by a general retreat from risk assets following two days of gains.

    The S&P 500 edged up 0.08% on average volume, closing well off its low as traders bought the dip after the Fed chief warned the Reserve does not have the tools to cushion the US economy if no compromise is found on a package of tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect on January 1. The Dow lost seven points or 0.05% after falling as much as 95 points. The Nasdaq put on 0.03% despite headwinds from an analyst downgrade for Intel and accounting troubles at Hewlett-Packard.

    Bernanke warned that the uncertain outlook caused by the fiscal cliff was damaging the economy and cautioned politicians against a compromise that merely delays a final decision on the budget.

    "Such uncertainties will only be increased by discord and delay," he said. "In contrast, cooperation and creativity to deliver fiscal clarity — in particular a plan for resolving the nation's longer-term budgetary issues without harming the recovery — could make the new year a very good one for the American economy." Read more here.

    "Bernanke's comment was a polite way of telling Congress that they should not kick the can down the road," the chief equity strategist for Wells Fargo Advantage Funds in the US told Bloomberg. "While the disappointment in HP is putting pressure on the market, these may be HP's issues and not indicative of the overall economy."

    Shares in Hewlett-Packard sagged 12% after it revealed problems with its purchase of Autonomy Corp last year, citing "accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations". Intel lost 3.6% after UBS downgraded its outlook on the tech giant.

    European markets took France's credit downgrade in their stride, focussing instead on more upbeat US housing data and reports that a ceasefire in the Middle East is pending. Housing starts hit their fastest pace in four years last month in the US. Germany's DAX put on 0.69%, France's CAC 0.65% and Britain's FTSE 0.18%.

    Most commodities gave back some of yesterday's gains. Oil trimmed a two-session rally of 4% ahead of tonight's US inventories report and as international pressure grew on Israel and Hamas to negotiate a truce after days of cross-border missile attacks. West Texas crude for January delivery was lately down $2.13 or 2.4% at US$87.15 a barrel.

    Gold eased as traders weighed softness in the US dollar, France's credit downgrade and upbeat US housing news. Gold for December delivery was recently off $6.60 or 0.4% at US$1,727.80 an ounce.

    Copper came under mild pressure as Chinese data showed a rise in house prices, reducing the likelihood that the government will scrap policies aimed at capping price inflation. US copper for December delivery was recently unchanged at US$3.53 a pound after an initial fall. In London, copper lost 0.3%, aluminium 0.7%, lead 1% and zinc 0.3%. Nickel added 1.1% and tin was unchanged.

    "With a focus on housing inflation, the latest data could prompt the government to refrain from relaxing curbs on the property market - bearish for copper," ANZ told Reuters. "Markets are closely watching for any policy direction from the new leadership and will likely direct sentiment for base metals."


    STEADY AS SHE GOES: A late recovery secured a third night of gains for the S&P 500, but not by enough to offer much direction this morning. Our market underperformed yesterday and may make up some ground this morning. However, much will depend on news from Europe (see below). US sectors had resource stocks in retreat, financials mixed and biotechs strong.

    GREEK DECISION: Today's wild-card is a meeting of European finance ministers taking place now to discuss the next round of bailout money for Greece. The general expectation is that the group will announce a two-year funding plan that will take Greece's woes off the business pages for a while. But with the EU, nothing is certain.

    ECONOMIC NEWS: The Melbourne Institute's leading index of economic indicators is due at 10.30am EST, followed by the Conference Board's Chinese version at 1pm. Highlights tonight in the US ahead of tomorrow's Thanksgiving holiday include weekly jobless claims, flash manufacturing, revised consumer sentiment and inflation expectations, crude oil inventories and a leading index.

    Good luck to all.
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