After Monday's Bernanke-fueled session ended with a triple-digit
bang for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), the Street's
buying mood has been tempered heading into today's trading. U.S.
economic data continues to roll in, providing some possible market
movers as investors look ahead to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller
home-price index, as well as the Conference Board's most recent
reading of consumer confidence. Despite yesterday's hot-and-cold
data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this
morning's promising earnings results from homebuilder Lennar (LEN )
could put a fresh gust of wind into the bulls' sails. Against this
cautiously optimistic backdrop, all three major market indexes are
pointed north of breakeven.
In earnings news, Apollo Group (APOL - 43.20) swung to a fiscal
second-quarter profit of $63.9 million, or 51 cents per share, from
its year-ago loss of $64 million, or 45 cents per share. Excluding
items, earnings arrived at 58 cents per share. Meanwhile,
consolidated revenue fell 7.5% to $969.6 million, pressured by
slower growth in new student enrollments. Analysts, on average,
were expecting earnings of 37 cents per share on sales of $932.8
million. Looking ahead, the company is predicting full-year
consolidated revenue of $4.1 billion to $4.3 billion, while
analysts are forecasting sales of $4.24 billion. APOL is off 6%
ahead of the bell.
Lennar Corporation (LEN - 26.40) reported a fiscal first-quarter
profit of $15 million, or 8 cents per share, down 45% from its
year-ago profit of $27.4 million, or 14 cents per share. Revenue
soared 30% to $724.9 million, as homebuilding sales surged 34% to
$624.4 million. The results easily beat Wall Street's forecast,
with analysts calling for a per-share profit of 4 cents on $699.4
million in sales. LEN is up 3.6% in pre-market trading.
Finally, Walgreen Co. (WAG - 34.37) reported a fiscal
second-quarter profit of $683 million, or 78 cents per share, a
decline of 7.7% from last year's earnings of $739 million, or 80
cents per share. Net sales improved 0.8% to $18.7 billion, even as
same-store sales dropped 2.1% amid weakness in prescriptions. The
drugstore chain said its break-up with Express Scripts (
) took a roughly 7-cent bite out of its bottom line during the
quarter. Nevertheless, WAG narrowly edged past analysts'
expectations for a profit of 77 cents per share on $18.5 billion in
revenue. WAG is on track to start the session 3.3% higher.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Charming
), McCormick (
), Neogen (
), Christopher & Banks (
), Oxford Industries (OXM), Robbins & Myers (RBN), Sealy (ZZ),
and Synnex (SNX). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
Today features the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, as
well as the Conference Board's latest consumer confidence report.
On Wednesday, durable goods data and the regularly scheduled crude
inventories report will hit the Street. Thursday's round-up will
include weekly jobless claims and the final report on
fourth-quarter GDP. The week wraps up on Friday with personal
income and spending data, the Chicago purchasing managers index
(PMI), and the final March reading of the Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,096,840 call contracts traded on Monday, compared to
812,612 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.74, while the 21-day moving average was 0.62.
Stocks in Asia ended mostly higher today, following suit with
Wall Street's Monday rally. Traders were encouraged by the prospect
of a continued accommodative stance from the U.S. central bank,
with the dollar's ensuing weakness supporting metals and mining
stocks. However, Shanghai-listed issues finished modestly lower,
pressured by a downbeat report on industrial earnings. By the
close, Japan's Nikkei surged 2.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.8%,
South Korea's Kospi gained 1%, and China's Shanghai Composite
European equities are wobbling around breakeven at midday, with
strength in banking stocks providing a positive edge. Royal Bank of
Scotland is pacing the sector rally, thanks to reports that Abu
Dhabi may be looking to buy a stake. At last check, the German DAX
is up 0.6%, the French CAC 40 has advanced 0.1%, and London's FTSE
100 is off 0.3%.
Currencies and Commodities
With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
not quite putting the kibosh
on the possibility for an additional round of quantitative easing,
the U.S. dollar index is pointed lower heading into today's
session. At last check, the greenback was down 0.05% at $78.94.
Crude oil, meanwhile, is trading 0.1% higher at $107.11 per barrel.
Gold futures are also on pace to continue their recent gains, with
the malleable metal up 0.3% at $1,693.30 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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