Elusive S&P record looms as investors weigh data, Fed

Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:03pm EDT
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By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With the S&P 500 again coming close to a record this week before falling back, investors will turn next week to a full slate of economic data and a Federal Reserve meeting in hope of fresh reasons whether to drive stocks to new highs.

The benchmark large-cap index flirted with the current record when a rally to start the week brought it to its highest in about 11 months. But the run fizzled on Thursday and Friday, making it the latest time the index has climbed above 2,100 before falling back from the May 21, 2015 closing record of 2,130.82.

"Equities are having a difficult time finding a rationale to punch through to a new high," said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

Next week brings the release of important U.S. economic data, including retail sales and inflation.

"We need to see something consistently good or bad to move the markets in a direction," said Peter Costa, president of Empire Executions. "Right now we haven’t got that."

With the S&P 500 closing south of 2,100 this week after touching 2,120 earlier, Katie Stockton, chief technical strategist at BTIG in New York, sees the move as a failed attempt of a breakout that is setting the index for further declines.

“Tested twice, three times, makes it more obvious to be a strong resistance level,” Stockton said. “There’s pent-up selling pressure there.”

After a poor start to the year, the S&P 500 has rallied more than 15 percent since mid February, helped by a rebound in oil prices to over $50 a barrel.   Continued...

A man passes by the New York Stock Exchange during a rain storm in New York February 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid