August 16, 2012
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This is Mark Vickery, again covering for Sheraz Mian while he is
away this week.
We're again chock-full of data this morning: Initial Jobless Claims
are up, Housing Starts are down, Building Permits are up quite a
bit, and earnings reports are mixed.
Initial Jobless Claims remain range-bound in the 360-370K area, up
200K this week to 366K from an upwardly revised 344K last week.
Continuing Claims were more or less unchanged at 3.34 million. In
other words, things aren't getting better, but they're not really
getting any worse. What's a way to update the phrase "broken
Housing Starts -- these days a closely-watched indicator of a
potential rebound in the homebuilding industry -- were down 1.1% in
July, although Building Permits -- an indicator of future Housing
Starts -- were up a surprising 6.8% in July, far surpassing the
3.1% in June. Perhaps there is reason for hope the housing market
will come back sooner than later, but this volatility seems to say
the jury's still out.
In earnings news,
) beat EPS estimates by a penny but missed on revenues; more
importantly, the world's largest retailer gave lackluster guidance,
which is in strong contrast to
) impressive beat-and-raise yesterday. Elsewhere,
) beat estimates soundly on strong year-over-year revenue numbers.
) missed EPS expectations but citing improving profit margins.
Yesterday after the bell,
) reported decent numbers, beating on the bottom line, but made
investors take notice when the company raised its dividend by 75%.
Considering the tech giant only began offering dividends last year,
its yield is now over 3%.
) share lockup expires, meaning holders of FB shares finally have
an opportunity to sell off their holdings of the popular -- but
poorly performing -- social media site. Facebook is down 3% in this
morning's pre-market, but there are 2 bigger expiring lockups
coming this fall, so it remains to be seen how many investors will
rid themselves of FB shares right now.