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Stocks Near Record Highs, Moving in Wide Range


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The market seems so desperate to get to historic highs that I'm worried everyone will be exhausted by the time we get there. The Dow Industrial Average has moved in a fairly wide 169-point range today.

Helping:

  1. Better ISM Manufacturing and Consumer Confidence


Hurting:

  1. Personal Income
  2. Euro Manufacturing and Unemployment


As for next week...

1) On March 7 we get bank stress tests results for the 19 largest banks. A week later, on March 14, the companies come out and tell us how much stock they will be buying back and whether there will be any dividend increases. This is called the Comprehensive Capital Assessment Review (CCAR). If they get the green light, they can get deploy more capital, potentially increasing dividends.

The expectations is that all 19 will pass. Last year, remember, Citigroup (C), SunTrust (STI) and Ally Financial failed. Hopes for higher dividends are definitely in the air.

Citi, for example, pays a $0.01 dividend. Most are expecting a modest increase to, say, $0.03, which would not make any real difference.

There may be some higher expectations for other banks, like SunTrust or Regions Financial (RF), which still pay a de minimis dividend.

2) Next week will be all about central banks. Six central banks will announce whether they will change interest rates next week, principally the ECB, Japan, and the Bank of England, but also Brazil, Canada and Australia. The ECB might cut rates, and that's one of the reasons the Euro was so weak in February. The Bank of England, which has interest rates at a half percent, may announce additional asset purchases to shore up the economy.

3) We also have the Jobs Report for February that will be out on Friday, expecting 167,000 jobs created...the problem is that government has been laying off people, and private sector growth really isn't strong enough to take up most of the slack.

4) As for Earnings Season...it's mostly over, with the exception of a few retailers like Staples (SPLS) and ANN (ANN).


By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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