Ahead of Wall Street - February 6, 2012 - Ahead of Wall Street


Monday, February 6, 2012

With nothing major on the U.S. economic calendar and Greece back in the news today, stocks will likely find it difficult to sustain last week's positive momentum. In fact, with the earnings season winding down and all the major economic data for last month already out, the market lacks in any major near-term catalyst that can help it make new highs.

Despite regular assurances to the contrary over the last few weeks, Greece has still not clinched a deal with its creditors, private and public. The focus in recent days has been the country's negotiations with private creditors, particularly on the extent of 'voluntary' losses that the bondholders will agree to. While that issue is still unresolved, the country also needs to secure a second bailout from its troika of public creditors - the IMF, the EU, and the European Central Bank.

The troika appears to be demanding even tougher restructuring measures as the price for a fresh bailout, which Greece's interim government is finding difficult to agree to. The country's economy is already is in a recession, making the implementation of fresh austerity measures difficult for the government to implement. While unlikely, the risk of a messy Greek default becomes very real in this backdrop of drawn out negotiations.

On the earnings front, Humana ( HUM posted inline EPS on modestly better than expected revenue, but the company's earnings guidance range came short of current consensus expectations. Hasbro ( HAS ), the toymaker, also met EPS expectations but its revenue was tad lower than expected. Lazard ( LAZ ) missed earnings expectations, but the investment bank announced a 25% dividend increase.

Stocks has made impressive gains in recent days, flirting with three and a half year highs, on the back of better than expected domestic economic readings and a relatively stable European backdrop. But with the U.S. economic calendar on the thin side this week and headlines about Greece taking back center stage, I would expect stocks to start losing ground this week. But irrespective of which way stocks move in the coming days, there is no denying that we are at an interesting point in the market.

Sheraz Mian
Director of Research

HASBRO INC ( HAS ): Free Stock Analysis Report
HUMANA INC NEW ( HUM ): Free Stock Analysis Report

LAZARD LTD ( LAZ ): Free Stock Analysis Report
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks , US Markets

Referenced Stocks: HAS , HUM , LAZ



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