US stocks not quite ready to push on to new highs

Non-farm productivity data gave no encouragement to the bulls

Share trading screen
Shares look set to mark time

A quiet start is in the offing as the S&P 500 teeters on the brink of hitting a new closing high.

Having briefly hit a new intra-day high yesterday the S&P 500 backed off to close a couple of points lower at 2,181, and spread betting quotes currently indicate it will open on or around that level this morning.

The more narrowly-based Dow Jones average is tipped to open a bit more boldly, up 12 points or so from last night’s close of 18,529.

The Dow is fewer than 100 points from its all-time closing high but the bulls will not have drawn much encouragement to push the index to the summit from the latest non-farm productivity numbers, which showed output dipped unexpectedly in the second quarter, by 0.5%, versus expectations of a 0.3% gain.

Productivity has now declined three quarters on the spin.

The second quarter results season seems to be subsiding, but there are still a few laggards reporting, such as luxury handbag maker Coach Inc (NYSE:COH), which produced a mixed bag of numbers.

The shares were off almost 3% in market trading despite like-for-like sales in North America rising 2% year-on-year in the second quarter, the best outcome for the firm since the second quarter of 2012.

Total sales fell short of market expectations, however.

Controversial drugs company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (TSE:VRX, NYSE:VRX) jumped 5.6% in pre-market trading as it unveiled restructuring plans with its quarterly results.

Traders marked the shares up as the company reiterated annual guidance, bolstering confidence it would not break its banking covenants.


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