Futures Look North with Consumer Sentiment, New Home Sales in Focus


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All three major market indexes are pointed higher this morning, with domestic economic reports continuing to drive the optimism on Wall Street. Investors are hopeful that today's consumer sentiment index, as well as new home sales data, will reinforce signs of a stabilizing economy . Meanwhile, a few positive earnings reports are also boosting the bulls, with Salesforce.com (CRM ) and OmniVision Technologies (OVTI ) both set to spike after their respective results. However, traders are also keeping a wary eye on crude oil , as the price per barrel edges higher. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is looking at a 35-point jump, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is set to tack on nearly 5 points.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In earnings news, Salesforce.com (CRM - 131.77) swung to a fourth-quarter loss of $4.1 million, or 3 cents per share, from its year-ago profit of $10.9 million, or 8 cents per share. Excluding items, CRM raked in 43 cents per share, while revenue improved 38% to $631.9 million. Both figures bested consensus expectations, as analysts were looking for an adjusted profit of 40 cents per share on $624 million in revenue. Looking ahead, CRM upped its full-year revenue forecast to a range between $2.92 billion and $2.95 billion, north of Wall Street's view for fiscal 2013 revenue of $2.91 billion. CRM is set to start the session with a more than 11% lead.

Elsewhere, OmniVision Technologies (OVTI - 16.08) confessed that its fiscal third-quarter earnings declined to $111,000, or breakeven per share, from the previous year's profit of $44.7 million, or 75 cents per share. Excluding items, OVTI banked a profit of 13 cents per share, even as revenue retreated 30% to $185.2 million. The firm's adjusted earnings fell right in line with analysts' expectations, while revenue surpassed the Street's forecast of $175.9 million. For the fourth quarter, OVTI expects to earn an adjusted profit of 15 cents to 28 cents per share, with revenue ranging between $195 million and $215 million. By contrast, analysts are expecting current-quarter earnings of just 10 cents per share on $170.7 million in revenue. OVTI is 12% higher in pre-market trading.

Finally, American International Group (AIG - 27.99) saw its fourth-quarter earnings surge 77% to $19.8 billion, thanks in large part to a $17.7-billion tax benefit. Stripping out that one-time gain, the insurance company banked a quarterly operating profit of $1.6 billion, or 82 cents per share -- easily surpassing the average analyst estimate of 63 cents per share. Additionally, AIG said it repurchased $70 million in stock during the recently concluded quarter. Meanwhile, CEO Robert Benmosche, who has been battling cancer since 2010, reassured investors that he's not going anywhere. "The board feels I'm providing value, and so I'm not necessarily in a hurry to run into retirement," Benmosche said in a CNBC interview last night. AIG is up 6.7% ahead of the bell.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Alpha Natural Resources ( ANR ), Cyberonics ( CYBX ), E.W. Scripps ( SSP ), Interpublic Group ( IPG ), J.C. Penney ( JCP ), Newmont Mining (NEM), Tree.com (TREE), Washington Post (WPO). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The week wraps up with the final Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for February, as well as new home sales data.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,212,616 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 819,612 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.68, while the 21-day moving average was 0.61.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended higher across the board today, following suit with Wall Street's Thursday advance. Traders were encouraged by a round of solid U.S. economic data, while rising oil prices continued to provide support for energy stocks. Exporters are still pacing the rally in Tokyo, thanks to a softer yen, with strong performances from the likes of Honda and Sony propelling the benchmark Nikkei to its highest daily finish since last August. By the close, China's Shanghai Composite climbed 1.3%, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.6%, Japan's Nikkei advanced 0.5%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng eked out a 0.1% win.

European markets are modestly higher at midday, with traders taking their cues from a round of impressive earnings reports. In Paris, construction giant Eiffage has vaulted higher on the heels of its upbeat second-half forecast, while a rosy full-year outlook is helping BASF gain ground in Frankfurt. The bulls have also been encouraged by dividend announcements from Telecom Italia and German tech titan SAP. At last check, London's FTSE 100 is up 0.07%, the French CAC 40 has added 0.5%, and the German DAX has jumped 0.8%.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar index is trading 0.4% lower this morning at $78.52. Crude oil, on the other hand, is on pace to end the week solidly in the black, with the front-month contract up 0.5% at $108.33 per barrel. Gold futures, meanwhile, are looking to pare some recent gains , with the malleable metal 0.3% lower at $1,781.40 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

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Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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This article appears in: Investing , Options
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