Stocks blazed a steady path higher on Thursday, as the Street
celebrated encouraging jobless data and a batch of
stronger-than-anticipated earnings reports. Ahead of the bell, the
major market indexes are headed even further north of round-number
resistance, with earnings once again in focus. Most notably, Oracle
) is headed higher after wowing the Street with solid quarterly
figures and a dividend hike, while Research In Motion Limited (
) is taking the red road less traveled after offering up lackluster
guidance. Ahead of the bell - and the government's latest gross
domestic product (
) estimate - the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) has added
more than 50 points, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX ) is about 5
points above breakeven.
In equities news, Research In Motion Limited (
) stepped into the spotlight last night, reporting a
better-than-anticipated fourth-quarter profit of $934 million, or
$1.78 per share. However, revenue came in at $5.556 billion,
falling short of analysts' forecast for sales of $5.643 billion.
What's more, while the BlackBerry maker's fiscal 2012 outlook
handily beat expectations, the firm offered fiscal first-quarter
earnings guidance of $1.47 to $1.55 per share on revenue of $5.2
billion to $5.6 billion. In comparison, analysts, on average,
estimated current-quarter profit of $1.65 per share on $5.642
billion in sales. In pre-market action, the shares of RIMM have
given up about 11%.
Meanwhile, Oracle Corp. (
) said earnings - excluding items - came in at $2.8 billion, or 54
cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter, exceeding the
Street's expectations for per-share earnings of 50 cents. In
addition, the tech titan said sales docked at $8.8 billion - a 37%
increase from the year-ago period, and above analysts' forecast for
sales of $8.7 billion. Furthermore, Oracle said it saw no material
impact from the earthquake in Japan, and bolstered its quarterly
dividend by 20% to 6 cents per share. Ahead of the bell, ORCL has
added roughly 4%.
Finally, Accenture (
) banked a fiscal second-quarter profit of $566 million, or 75
cents per share, surpassing Wall Street's forecast of 71 cents per
share. Revenue for the quarter improved to $6.1 billion, even as
higher compensation costs pressured gross margin to 31.7% from
32.7% in the year-ago period. Looking ahead, ACN predicted
full-year earnings of $3.22 to $3.30 per share, topping analysts'
expectations for $3.14 per share. At last check, ACN is poised to
open about 5% higher.
KB Home (
) is slated to step into the earnings confessional today. Keep your
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar wraps up today with the government's
latest gross domestic product (
) estimate for the fourth quarter, as well as the
Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,379,727 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to
789,539 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
fell to 0.57, while the 21-day moving average dipped to 0.62.
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Asian stocks ended the week on a high note today, thanks to
optimism about Japan's post-earthquake recovery. Along with
material-related equities, automakers Toyota Motor (TM) and Nissan
Motor paced the advancers after both companies outlined plans to
resume production. By the close, the Nikkei added 1.07%, bringing
its weekly gain to 3.6%. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index and
the Shanghai Composite rallied 1.06% apiece, with financials
blazing the trail higher on the heels of solid earnings from Bank
of China Ltd. Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi jumped 0.8%, while
Indian stocks rallied 2.5% as investors celebrated new tax reforms
and banking laws.
European markets were also mostly higher, at last check, despite
Standard & Poor's downgrade of Portugal's debt and news that
the Ifo Institute's German business confidence fell for the first
time in nine months in March. However, the drop was narrower than
economists predicted, and the institute's president said "the
business cycle traffic lights still signal 'green.'"At last look,
Germany's DAX has powered 0.2% higher, London's FTSE 100 has added
0.3%, and France's CAC 40 is up 0.3%.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar has ticked higher this morning, as the U.S.
Dollar Index was seen hovering around 75.78. Elsewhere, after
pulling back from a 29-month high on Thursday, crude futures are
trading fractionally higher. In electronic trading, the May crude
futures contract has added 0.05% to flirt with $105.65 per barrel.
Finally, gold futures are also positioned to extend yesterday's
retreat from record highs, giving back 1.2% to linger near
$1,433.70 an ounce.
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