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Indices cling to slight gains

With no real catalysts to significantly move the market, stock prices have risen gently today, as investors remain reassured by benign conditions, leaving the Dow Jones on course for a record close.

All trading involves risk. Losses can exceed deposits.

We are drawing close to the end of an US earnings seasons that has been largely positive, which is supporting the major stock indices even at their current elevated levels. Recent economic data has shown surprising strength in the labour market, but the evidence we have seen is that consumer spending remains inhibited.

Significantly, we have yet to hear quarterly reports from some major retailers, including Wal-Mart and Home Depot, and heading into the hugely important holiday shopping season, it will be very interesting to see what kind of demand they are seeing.

While tapering expectations remain in flux, the Fed’s stimulus has already remained in place longer than many had originally expected and that is also contributing to the upward momentum.

With less than half an hour to the close on Wall Street, the Dow was trading up 0.13% or 20 points at 15,781, on track for a fresh record close, while the S&P 500 had gained 0.04%.

US economic reports resume tomorrow with the Chicago Fed National Activity Index the most significant release of the day. This report is the only nationwide gauge conducted by a regional Federal Reserve Bank.

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