Stocks Advance After Alcoa Numbers

Stocks are inching higher this morning as earnings season gets underway.

S&P 500 futures are up almost 0.2 percent, while European indexes are little-changed. Most Asian markets advanced by about 0.5 percent overnight after aluminum giant Alcoa forecast stronger demand, partially because of accelerating growth in China.

The S&P 500 began 2013 with a strong rally but has been drifting in a range for the last four sessions as it pushes against its October highs. Economically sensitive transportation stocks have been outperforming over the last month, while the Russell 2000 small-cap index and the S&P 400 mid-cap index are at record levels. That suggests risk appetite is stronger than the broad-based S&P 500 implies.

While much attention has focused recently on troubled public finances in the United States and Europe, economic fundamentals here and in China have been improving. AA confirmed that trend by raising its 2013 outlook for global aluminum consumption to 7 percent from 6 percent.

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