U.S. stock futures are modestly lower heading into today's
session. With little in the way of economic and earnings reports on
the domestic front, traders have turned their attention overseas,
where euro-zone finance leaders will meet today to discuss the
final approval on Greece's next tranche of bailout aid. News out of
China has the Street a bit on edge, with the country's massive
$31.48-billion trade deficit prompting a new round of growth
concerns. Against this backdrop, all three major market indexes are
trading just south of breakeven.
In equities news, PepsiCo Inc. (PEP - 63.15) tapped Brian
Cornell to be CEO of its America Foods division, while current CEO
John Compton will shift to the newly created position of President
of PepsiCo. Cornell had previously worked in general management
positions for the company, but more recently held the reins as
president and CEO of Sam's Club. The move is effective immediately.
PEP is up 1% ahead of the bell.
In earnings news, FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL - 1.50) swallowed a
slimmer fiscal first-quarter loss of $6.7 million, or 5 cents per
share, versus its year-ago loss of $11.7 million, or 10 cents per
share. Revenue, meanwhile, rose 12% to $31.3 million, compared to
last year's sales of $28.1 million. The results were mixed, as
analysts, on average, were calling for a wider loss of 6 cents per
share on $32.7 million in revenue. FCEL is up 9% in pre-market
Silver Standard Resources (SSRI - 15.50) banked a fourth-quarter
profit of $2.58 million, or 3 cents per share, down sharply from
its year-ago earnings of $361.6 million, or $4.56 per share.
Analysts, by contrast, were looking for a loss of 6 cents per
share. During the quarter, SSRI's Pirquitas mine operations lost
$3.3 million, as the cost of sales outstripped revenue.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Amerigon
), Cadence Pharmaceuticals (
), Cumulus Media (
), Clean Energy Fuels (
), Pulse Electronics (
), Resolute Energy (REN), SRS Labs (SRSL), Synergetics (SURG),
Urban Outfitters (URBN), Vaalco Energy (EGY). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The week kicks off with the Treasury Department's monthly
federal budget report. Tuesday features the latest data on retail
sales and business inventories, but the day's major news will
likely be the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) policy
decision, due out at 2:15 p.m. Eastern. On Wednesday, the MBA
mortgage index will hit the Street, along with import and export
prices, and the regularly scheduled crude inventories report.
Thursday's round-up will include weekly jobless claims, the Empire
State manufacturing index, the Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing
index, and the producer price index (PPI). The week wraps up on
Friday with the consumer price index (CPI), industrial production
and capacity utilization, and the Thomson Reuters/University of
Michigan consumer sentiment index for mid-March.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,121,808 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to
705,801 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.63, while the 21-day moving average was 0.64.
Stocks in Asia ended mostly lower today, after Beijing unveiled
a surprisingly steep trade deficit for February. The data revived
concerns about waning demand from Europe and other key trade
partners, effectively overshadowing Friday's well-received U.S.
jobs data. However, a softening yen helped keep losses to a minimum
in Tokyo, while China Mobile led the gainers in Hong Kong after
bullish notes from Credit Suisse and HSBC. By the close, South
Korea's Kospi fell 0.8%, Japan's Nikkei lost 0.4%, China's Shanghai
Composite shed 0.2%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.2%.
European markets are similarly mixed at midday. Traders were
jarred by China's unexpectedly wide trade gap, as well as data
showing that Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.7%
during the fourth quarter. Miners and resource stocks are pacing
the laggards, but banks have emerged as a pocket of strength. At
last check, the German DAX is up 0.1%, while London's FTSE 100 and
France's CAC 40 are each 0.2% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar index is up 0.05% this morning to trade at $80.
Crude oil, on the other hand, is on track to pare some of
last week's gain
, with the front-month contract down 1% at $106.84 per barrel. Gold
futures are headed south, as well, with the malleable metal last
seen 0.4% lower at $1,704.60 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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