Traders are bringing the focus back to the home front today,
with futures pointed modestly higher ahead of a slew of housing
data. Although yesterday's report on
arrived at a three-year high, the optimism was overshadowed by
slowing growth in China
, with all three major market indexes ending the session
in the red
. In addition to existing home sales and the Mortgage Bankers
) mortgage index, the Street will also be privy to Congressional
testimony from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
Eastern. Against this busy backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial
Average (DJIA) is trading nearly 28 points higher, while the
broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is set to tack on 3 points.
In earnings news, Oracle Corporation (ORCL - 30.10) said its
fiscal third-quarter profit surged 18% to $2.5 billion, or 49 cents
per share, from last year's profit of $2.12 billion, or 41 cents
per share. Excluding items, earnings rose 15% to 62 cents per
share. The bottom line was positively affected by a 7.2% jump in
new license sales, a key metric for ORCL's software business, which
helped offset an 11% decline in hardware sales. Total revenue edged
3.1% higher to $9.04 billion. The results came in above Wall
Street's expectations for adjusted earnings of 56 cents per share
on $9.02 billion in sales. ORCL is trading 2.5% higher ahead of the
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD - 8.49) swung to a fourth-quarter
profit of $143.5 million, or $2.01 per share, up from a loss of
$1.5 million, or 2 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding items, earnings arrived at 6 cents per share. Meanwhile,
revenue rose by 11.2% to $102 million, boosted by an 8.3% increase
in company-owned same-store sales. Analysts, on average, were
expecting earnings of 6 cents per share on sales of $101.3 million.
Looking ahead, the company is forecasting an adjusted fiscal 2013
profit of 35 cents to 41 cents per share, compared to the Street's
estimate of 35 cents per share. KKD is set to jump 3.7% right out
of the gate.
Finally, General Mills, Inc. (GIS - 38.76) said its fiscal
third-quarter profit fell 0.2% to $391.5 million, or 58 cents per
share, from its year-ago profit of $392.1 million, or 59 cents per
share. Excluding items, earnings dropped to 55 cents. Net sales saw
a 13% improvement to $4.12 billion, thanks to GIS' acquisition of
Yoplait. The top-line results came in better than expected, with
analysts calling for adjusted earnings of 55 cents per share on
$4.07 billion in sales. For fiscal 2012, the grocery concern
reiterated its outlook for earnings of $2.53 to $2.55 per share,
bracketing Wall Street's forecast for a per-share profit of $2.54.
GIS is down 0.2% in pre-market trading.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Actuant (
), Asure Software (
), Daqo New Energy Corp. (
), Discover Financial Services (
), Fred's (FRED), Herman Miller (MLHR), Shoe Carnival (SCVL), Sonic
Corp. (SONC), and The9 Limited (NCTY). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
Today's docket features the MBA mortgage index and existing home
sales, in addition to the weekly update on crude inventories. On
Thursday, we'll see the latest data on initial and continuing
jobless claims, the Conference Board's index of leading economic
indicators, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) home
price index. A week chock-full of economic data wraps up on Friday
with new home sales.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,251,417 call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to
661,371 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.53, while the 21-day moving average was 0.62.
It was a mixed session in Asia, as traders remained on edge
regarding an apparent downturn in Chinese growth. Tuesday's
pullback on Wall Street also prompted some jitters, with exporters
among the notable decliners in Seoul and Tokyo. However, aluminum
producers trekked higher in Shanghai, bolstered by reports that the
government is looking to foster consolidation in the non-ferrous
mining sector. By the close, South Korea's Kospi lost 0.7%, Japan's
Nikkei gave up 0.6%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2%, and China's
Shanghai Composite inched up 0.06%.
The major European benchmarks are trading just north of
breakeven at midday, with buyers taking a cautious approach ahead
of today's U.S. housing data. Automakers are bouncing back from
Tuesday's losses, thanks to a sector upgrade to "overweight" at
Citigroup, while British grocery giant J. Sainsbury rallied after
reporting stronger-than-forecast quarterly sales. At last look,
France's CAC 40 has tacked on 0.07%, London's FTSE 100 is 0.1%
higher, and the German DAX is up 0.2%.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar index has pulled back this morning, with the
greenback 0.1% lower at $79.53. Crude oil is headed higher, despite
Saudi Arabia's attempt to ease supply concerns
. Ahead of today's weekly inventories report, the front-month
contract is up 0.5% at $106.59 per barrel. Gold futures are pointed
north, as well, with the malleable metal set to jump 0.4% to
$1,653.60 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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