Stocks set to back off record highs

  @CNNMoneyInvest March 11, 2013: 9:09 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

U.S. stock futures little changed Monday, perhaps signaling that Wall Street is finally ready to take a break from last week's record-breaking rally.

Stocks have been surprising investors with their resilience especially with the "anticipation of additional spending cuts" from the sequester, wrote Brown Brothers Harriman strategist Marc Chandler, in a client note.

Investors have largely shrugged off the forced budget cuts, instead focusing on strong corporate earnings and the economic recovery.

This week's main focus will be on retail sales, as investors look for further signs of economic strength.

The numbers, due out Wednesday, will be even more closely watched than normal as investors are keen to see whether the increased payroll tax, delayed tax refunds and higher gas prices have caused consumers to pull back.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) warned last month that February sales had been softer than expected.

February sales are expected to have risen 0.5%, according to economists polled by Briefing.com.

Related: Bank stocks still 50% below all-time highs

Stocks wrapped one of the best weeks of the year Friday, with the Dow closing at a record high for the fourth straight day. All three indexes were up more than 2% for the week, and the S&P is less than 1% from hitting its all-time high.

On the corporate front, shares of Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS, Fortune 500) fell more than 5% after the retailer reported earnings and sales that fell short of forecasts. The company also said it expected a sharp slowdown in same-store sales for the first quarter.

Renren (RENN) got a big boost after easily beating revenue forecasts. Shares of the Chinese social media company spiked nearly 5% in premarket trading.

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European markets were mostly lower in morning trading, while Asian markets ended mixed.

Overall, global markets have been joining in the rally, with Japan's Nikkei surging 18% so far this year.

"Japan's economy seems to be on the mend, though it is really too early to attribute it to Abenomics," said Chandler, referring to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his plans for economic stimulus.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was flat, dragged down by concerns over Chinese manufacturing. To top of page



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