Opening View: DJIA Follows Europe Into the Black; UBS, NFLX Under the Microscope

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U.S. stocks have followed their European peers into the black this morning, as investors continue to celebrate signs of progress across the pond. Along with talk of a potential euro-zone bond , Germany and France's confidence in debt-strapped Greece is keeping the proverbial glass half full, helping to overshadow some bleak news in the equities market. Most notably, UBS AG (UBS ) confessed that a rogue trader -- who's since been arrested in London, according to Reuters -- racked up $2 billion in unauthorized losses, while Netflix (NFLX ) has retreated after shaving its third-quarter subscriber forecast. Nevertheless, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is headed for a 60-point jump out of the gate, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is trading about 15 points north of fair value.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

As alluded to earlier, Netflix (NFLX - 208.71) cut its domestic subscriber estimates for the third quarter, though the video-rental firm maintained its quarterly earnings forecast. Specifically, NFLX now expects 21.8 million streaming subscribers and 14.2 million DVD subscribers in the current quarter, compared to its previous projections for 22 million and 15 million, respectively. The company said it remains "convinced that the splitting of our services was the right long-term strategic choice." Furthermore, "We know our decision to split our services has upset many of our subscribers, which we don't take lightly, but we believe this split will help us make our services better for subscribers and shareholders for years to come." In pre-market action, NFLX has given up about 11%.

In earnings news, Pier 1 Imports (PIR - 11.67) said fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 16% to $16.6 million, or 14 cents per share, matching both the company's guidance and analysts' expectations. Revenue, meanwhile, rose 9.6% to $339.6 million, while same-store sales jumped 11% from the year-ago quarter. Analysts, on average, were expecting PIR to record revenue of just $332.9 million. "It is hard to predict how the economy will fare over the next several months, but we fully expect our business to be successful through the fall and holiday selling season," said CEO Alex W. Smith. Ahead of the bell, PIR has advanced 5.9%.

Finally, Clarcor (CLC - 45.84) reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $32.1 million, or 63 cents per share, up 13% from $28.3 million, or 55 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue ramped up 8.4% to $284.8 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 66 cents per share on revenue of $295.33 million. Looking ahead, CLC predicted full-year earnings to range between $2.25 and $2.40 per share, just short of Wall Street's forecast of $2.42 per share. "We enter the fourth quarter with some caution," said Chairman and CEO Norm Johnson. "We experienced some challenges with slower economic activity in Europe and China in the third quarter, and uncertainty prevails in the U.S. economy going forward." At last check, CLC is poised to open with a 7.8% drop.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from AAR Corp. ( AIR ), Diamond Foods ( DMND ), Marcus Corp. ( MCS ), and Research In Motion Ltd. ( RIMM ). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Today features the weekly jobless figures from the Labor Department, the Empire State manufacturing index, the Philly Fed business index, the consumer price index ( CPI ), and industrial production and capacity utilization for August. Friday wraps up with the preliminary Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for September.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,004,384 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 653,585 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.65, while the 21-day moving average was 0.75.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

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Overseas Trading

Asian markets ended mostly higher today, following suit with Wall Street's Wednesday gains. Traders were reassured after France and Germany reiterated their commitment to keeping Greece in the euro zone, which provided support for economically sensitive commodity issues. Steel stocks were a particular pocket of strength in Tokyo, thanks to a bullish note from Credit Suisse. However, Chinese-listed equities sat out the day's advance, with the benchmark index closing lower on light volume. By the close, Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.8%, South Korea's Kospi rose 1.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7%, and China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.2%.

Stocks in Europe are gaining ground, boosted by Prime Minister George Papandreou's vow that debt-laden Greece fully intends to meet its financial obligations. However, not all of the headlines are so upbeat. Swiss bank UBS is taking a drubbing after confessing that one of its employees racked up $2 billion in losses on unauthorized trades, which led to the arrest of a 31-year-old suspect in London. Meanwhile, beaten-down Societe Generale was cut to "reduce" at Nomura, just one session after getting slapped with a Moody's downgrade. Nevertheless, bulls are driving the action at midday. At last check, the German DAX has advanced 2.3%, the French CAC 40 has added 2.6%, while London's FTSE 100 is roughly 1.9% higher.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The greenback is trading slightly lower this morning, with the U.S. dollar index down about 0.3% at last look. Elsewhere, crude oil futures have reclaimed some ground after yesterday's inventories-related decline, with the front-month contract up 52 cents, or 0.6%, at $89.53 per barrel. Gold futures, on the other hand, have extended yesterday's retreat, giving up $18.90, or 1%, to linger near $1,807.60 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

For an explanation of how to use this information, check out our Education Center topics on Option Volume and Open Interest Configurations .

Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: AIR , CPI , DMND , MCS , RIMM

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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