Wall Street is taking a cautious stance ahead of today's
session, with futures on all three major market indexes pointed
south of breakeven. International news has edged its way back into
the spotlight, with traders digesting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's
downwardly revised growth target. The 7.5% rate represents China's
lowest growth target in eight years. Elsewhere, disappointing
manufacturing data out of the euro zone has investors on edge.
Meanwhile, factory orders and the Institute for Supply Management's
) non-manufacturing index are on the domestic agenda. Against this
backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is looking at a
28-point drop, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is trading
4 points lower.
In equities news, American International Group, Inc. (AIG -
29.80) moved forward with plans to sell 1.7 billion shares of its
remaining stake in AIA Group Ltd. on the Hong Kong market. The
shares -- expected to garner approximately $6 billion for the
insurer -- will be formally priced on Tuesday. The majority of the
proceeds will be used to pay down AIG's outstanding debt to the
U.S. government from its 2008 bailout. AIG is down 0.3% in
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD - 7.46) said it will take a
$703-million charge in the first quarter after restructuring its
relationship with key manufacturer GlobalFoundries. The amount
includes a $425-million payment to GlobalFoundries, as well as an
additional non-cash charge. Under the terms of the revised
agreement, AMD will also transfer its 8.8% equity stake in the
company back to GlobalFoundries. However, AMD reiterated its
first-quarter gross margin guidance of roughly 45%, as well as its
fiscal 2012 gross margin forecast of 44% to 48%. AMD has added 0.1%
ahead of the bell.
iSoftStone Holdings Limited (ISS - 10.59) swung to a
fourth-quarter profit of $2.3 million, or 4 cents per share, from
last year's loss of $3.9 million, or 25 cents per share. Excluding
items, earnings arrived at 19 cents per share, while revenue jumped
38.9% to $85.8 million. The bottom-line results beat analysts'
expectations for adjusted earnings of 18 cents per share, while
revenue fell in line with the Street's forecast.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from AMAG
), Arcos Dorados (
), Fuel Tech (
), Giant Interactive (
), NutriSystem (NTRI), and VeriFone Systems (PAY). Keep your
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar kicks off today with factory orders, as
well as the ISM's non-manufacturing index. While there are no
economic reports of note on Tuesday, Wednesday's jam-packed docket
brings us weekly crude inventories, ADP's private-sector payrolls
figure for February, fourth-quarter productivity, and the Federal
Reserve's consumer credit report. Jobs data continues to trickle in
on Thursday, when we'll hear the regularly scheduled update on
initial unemployment claims. We'll wrap up the week on a busy note,
with the delayed release of the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls
report for February, as well as the latest unemployment rate, the
trade deficit, and wholesale inventories.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,056,836 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to
659,777 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.62, while the 21-day moving average was 0.61.
Asian markets ended in the red today, pressured by concerns
about China's economy. The country's downwardly revised growth
prompted selling in financials and resource stocks across the
region. Meanwhile, trading in AIA Group was halted in Hong Kong,
following reports that AIG is planning to unload its $6-billion
stake at a discount. By the close, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.4%,
South Korea's Kospi gave up 0.9%, Japan's Nikkei shed 0.8%, and
China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.6%.
That gloomy economic outlook out of Beijing is also dragging on
Europe at midday, and the negative mood has been compounded by a
disappointing report on euro-zone factory activity. Markit's
composite purchasing managers index (PMI) dropped to 49.3 in
February, down from 50.4 in January, and below the preliminary
result of 49.7. Italy and Spain suffered particularly drastic
contractions last month, sending 10-year bond yields for both
countries higher. At last check, the German DAX is down 0.9%, the
French CAC 40 is off 0.4%, and London's FTSE 100 is 0.2% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar index is higher this morning, with the greenback
last seen up 0.06% at $79.46. Conversely, crude oil has
continued to pull back
, with the front-month contract last seen 0.4% lower at $106.27 per
barrel. Gold futures are also pointed lower, with the malleable
metal down 0.7% at $1,697.80 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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