Stocks extended their trip into new-high territory on Thursday,
despite a dose of less-than-impressive data on the home front.
Ahead of the bell today, the major market indexes are trading
mixed, as the Street deliberates over the latest batch of corporate
earnings reports. On one hand, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
(DJIA ) is flirting with a modest pre-market gain, with industrial
bigwig Caterpillar (
) pacing the advancers after blowing past analysts' profit
projections. However, an unimpressive showing from Microsoft Corp.
(MSFT) has limited the blue-chip barometer's momentum, and -- along
with an even more dismal report from Research In Motion (RIMM) --
has pushed the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP ) into the red.
In equities news, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - 26.71) reported a
fiscal third-quarter profit of $5.2 billion, or 56 cents per share,
excluding a one-time tax benefit -- up 31% from the year-ago
quarter, and matching the Street's forecast. Revenue, meanwhile,
rose 13% to $16.43 billion, compared to analysts' expectations for
sales of $16.19 billion. Digging deeper into the data, Microsoft
said sales of its Windows 7 operating system fell 4% in the
quarter, while PC sales declined 1%. Nevertheless, the blue chip
said demand for business PCs is up 9%, and that "consumers are
purchasing Office 2010, Xbox and Kinect at tremendous rates." In
pre-market trading, MSFT is poised to open about 0.8% lower.
Meanwhile, Caterpillar (CAT - 112.64) this morning reported a
record first-quarter profit of $1.23 billion, or $1.84 per share,
up fivefold from the period a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter
jumped 57% to $12.95 billion. Analysts, on average, were
anticipating first-quarter earnings of $1.31 per share on sales of
$11.69 billion. The blue chip also upped its full-year earnings
forecast to a range of $6.25 to $6.75 per share on revenue of $52
billion to $54 billion, compared to its prior guidance for earnings
"near $6" per share on revenue "above $50 billion." At last check,
CAT is set to open more than 3.1% higher.
Finally, Research In Motion Limited (RIMM - 56.59) slashed its
first-quarter profit forecast to a range between $1.30 and $1.37
per share, compared to its late March outlook for earnings of $1.47
to $1.55 per share. The company also expects to fall short of its
first-quarter revenue guidance of $5.2 billion to $5.6 billion.
RIMM attributed the freshly cut forecast to weaker shipments of its
BlackBerry smartphones and a shift toward devices with lower
average selling prices. However, RIMM backed its full-year profit
forecast of $7.50 per share, which it expects to attain through
"prudent cost management" and new product launches due later in the
fiscal year. Ahead of the bell, RIMM is lingering about 12% below
Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Chevron Corp.
), Merck & Co. (MRK), Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT), D.R.
), and Cliffs Natural Resources (
), just to name a few. Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The week ends with a bang today, with reports on personal income
and spending, the Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI), and the
Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index on the
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (
) saw 1,277,787 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to
706,087 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
docked at 0.55, while the 21-day moving average remained at
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Markets in Asia finished mixed today, with stocks in Seoul
slipping into the red after disappointing earnings from Samsung
Electronics and data showing a slowdown in industrial production
growth. However, Chinese equities powered higher, bouncing back
from a five-session losing streak as bargain hunters scooped up
battered stocks ahead of a long holiday weekend. By the close,
South Korea's Kospi shed 0.7%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4%, and
China's Shanghai Composite added 0.9%. Japanese markets are closed
European markets are wobbling around breakeven at midday, with
traders weighing a mixed bag of earnings from the auto sector.
German company Daimler weighed on sentiment with lackluster
first-quarter results, but Volvo and Volkswagen continued to gain
ground in the wake of their respective quarterly reports. At last
check, the German DAX is up 0.4%, while France's CAC 40 is off
0.1%. Markets in the U.K. are closed in observance of the royal
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is ticking lower again this morning, with the U.S.
dollar index down almost 0.3%. Elsewhere, crude futures have given
back some of Thursday's modest gains. At last check, the June-dated
contract has surrendered 0.2% to flirt with $112.65 per barrel.
Meanwhile, gold futures have continued their trek into record-high
territory. In pre-market action, the front-month contract has
tacked on 0.3% to trade at $1,536.30 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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