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Premarket: S&P 500 takes aim at another record, gold jumps Add to ...

Commodities are firmer this morning and U.S. and Canadian stock futures are holding close to unchanged, suggesting the S&P 500 could make another entry in the record books after the benchmark index closed at its highest ever on Friday. If the S&P 500 ends higher today, it would be the 23rd record closing high this year.

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Weakness in the U.S. dollar today is giving hard assets priced in the currency a boost, with gold climbing back above $1,300 (U.S.) an ounce. WTI prices are trading slightly above Brent values.

The main focus today - and much of this week -  is on U.S. earnings that are pouring out for the second quarter. So far, results have been quite strong overall, but more so for the bottom line than the top. Just over 70 per cent of S&P 500 companies that have reported second-quarter results so far have beaten analyst estimates, but only 53 per cent have exceeded revenue projections, according to Bloomberg. Canadian firms are just starting to release their second-quarter results, with Canadian National Railway Co. reporting its latest financials today.

Overseas markets were mostly higher overnight, with the Nikkei rising nearly 0.5 per cent after Japan's ruling party won a majority in the parliament's upper house - giving it a mandate to push forward with economic reforms that should put further pressure on the yen and boost equity values. The result of the weekend election was widely expected, so the market reaction was modest.

Now, here's a closer look at what's going on and what's to come later today.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 -0.03 per cent; Dow -0.12 per cent; Nasdaq +0.06 per cent; TSX +0.26 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.26 per cent

Shanghai composite index +0.62 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +0.47 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 -0.15 per cent

Germany’s DAX +0.04 per cent

France's CAC 40 +0.25 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Sep) +0.5 per cent at $108.51 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) +1.7 per cent at $1,316.90 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Sep) +1.1 per cent at $3.18 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 96.64 (U.S.), versus 96.46 at Friday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index down 0.30 at 82.30

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.49 per cent, down 0.04

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

(10 a.m. ET) National Association of Realtors reports U.S. existing home sales for June. Economists expect a 1 per cent increase over May.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Intact Financial Corp. said it will record about $270-million in expenses over two quarters as a result of several recent catastrophes including floods in Alberta and Toronto and the deadly Lac-Megantic train derailment in Quebec.

McDonald's Corp. reported second-quarter earnings per share of $1.38, 2 cents below Street estimates. It said its results will be challenged for the rest of 2013. Shares are down 2 per cent in the premarket.

Other earnings today include: Canadian National Railway Co.; Gannett Co. Inc.; Halliburton Co.; Hasbro Inc.; Kimberly-Clark Corp.; Netflix Inc.; and Texas Instruments Incorporated.

Maple Leaf Foods has agreed to sell its turkey growing operations.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

The vast majority of professional advisers who try to get in and out of the stock market at the right time end up doing worse than those who simply buy and hold through bull and bear markets alike.

Charts show it will take a lot to break gold's downtrend.

High yield U.S. spreads have erased more than two-thirds of the move higher that they saw from May to late June.

The U.S. market is overvalued compared with emerging markets.

Five tips for better index investing.

Apple is testing out bigger displays for iPads and iPhones.

Why the Microsoft Surface tablet failed and the iPad did not.

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The premarket report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves. For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities. You can also be notified using our dashboard feature when new articles appear from this author. Read more on using this feature here.

Follow on Twitter: @eyeonequities

 
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