Equities Flat Ahead Of Budget Talks; Europe Slips Over Greece Uncertainty

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[Chart courtesy of MarketWatch.com]

US equities finished mostly flat with investors sticking to the sidelines before talks to head off tax hikes and automatic spending cuts that would begin in January as uncertainty over Greece and Europe still loomed on the horizon.

Chinese exports grew the fastest in five months, topping estimates at over 11 percent, a report over the weekend showed. That helped offset market jitters after a dour report showed the Japanese economy shrank 0.9 percent in the third quarter due to falling exports.

US stocks fell the most in five months last week as markets focused on the budget standoff between the newly reelected President Obama and the Republican dominated House of Representatives.

All the major equity averages fluctuated between small gains and losses Monday before finishing nearly unchanged on a low-volume trading day as many traders chose to stay away for the Veteran’s Day holiday. Banks and bond markets however remained closed, and no major economic data was released.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed fractionally lower while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) rose a meager 0.15 points with telecommunications gaining the most and utilities faring the worst among its 10 business groups.

The US dollar traded near a two-month high against the euro on Monday as eurozone officials met to break the impasse over Greece’s next tranche of bailout money. News reports suggested no decision would be reached on the release of EUR 31.5 billion at the meeting, chaired by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

Meanwhile, European stocks finished a volatile session lower, spooked by uncertainty about Greece’s continuation in the currency union. The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.3 percent, logging its fourth straight session of losses.

Shares of Greece National Bank crashed 14 percent while the Athens General Index plunged 3.6 percent after Societe Generale analysts observed a more sustainable solution to the Greece crisis involving debt forgiveness and some form of Marshall Plan can only be expected after the German election in autumn 2013.

In the ETF space, Biotechnology related funds sizzled after Gilead Sciences and Celgene released positive drug development news over the weekend. The Market Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH) rose 2.78 percent after its 4th largest holding Celgene revealed late Friday its Abraxane drug increased the life-expectancy of pancreatic patients.

Gilead shares vaulted 5.4 percent after the firm announced its experimental hepatitis C therapies showed 100 percent cure rate. At 12.28 percent, Gilead is BBH’s second biggest holding by assets. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology (IBB) fund also rose, adding 1.76 percent for the day.

Our Trend Tracking Indexes (TTIs) finished this slow day as follows:

Domestic TTI: +0.74%

International TTI: +1.52%

For quick access to the most recent StatSheet including TTI charts and all momentum figures, click here. You can read the latest ETF Model Portfolio update here.

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