Opening View: DJIA Futures on Hold Ahead of November Jobs Data


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After rallying more than 350 points in two days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is on pace to end the first week of December with a gain of roughly 2.5%. However, Wall Street must first get past today's November nonfarm payrolls report and unemployment rate. Economists are forecasting that the U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 9.6%. Despite the impressive rally heading into the report, stocks are in a holding pattern this morning, with futures on the DJIA and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) trading roughly 7.6 points and 2.3 points above fair value, respectively.

Technically, the DJIA has reclaimed former support at the 11,350 level and could easily challenge its 2010 highs near 11,450 following better-than-expected jobs data. Look for support to hold near 11,250 on a pullback, with the 11,200 area providing a backstop if the situation turns sour. As for the SPX, the index has resistance near 1,230, while short-term support rests at 1,210, while the 1,200 should contain any sharp sell-off.

In equity news, Big Lots Inc. ( BIG ) reported a third-quarter profit of $17.7 million, or 23 cents per share, down 42% from earnings of $30.3 million, or 37 cents per share, a year earlier. Net sales rose 2% to $1.06 billion, as same-store sales rose 0.7%. Analysts were looking for a profit of 24 cents per share. Looking ahead, Big Lots said it sees full-year earnings of between $2.75 and $2.81 per share, down from its prior forecast for a profit of between $2.82 and $2.90 per share.

Elsewhere, Novell Inc. ( NOVL ) said that it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $322.2 million, or 91 cents per share, from a loss of $255.7 million, or 74 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue fell to $206.5 million, from $215.6 million. Excluding one-time items, Novell said earnings for the quarter were 7 cents per share. Analysts had expected Novell to report earnings excluding items of 7 cents per share, and $203.5 million in revenue.

Finally, Verifone Systems ( PAY ) also swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $49.4 million, or 55 cents per share, from a loss of $2.2 million, or 3 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time items, the company would have reported a profit of 40 cents per share in the latest quarter. Revenue rose to $228.3 million from $186 million last year. Analysts estimated a quarterly profit of 36 cents per share on revenue of $262.7 million. The company forecast first-quarter adjusted earnings of 38 cents to 39 cents on revenue of $265 million to $270 million, compared with an analyst consensus of 35 cents per share on revenue of $260.4 million.

Earnings Preview

There are no major earnings reports slated for release today. Keep your browser at for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The much anticipated nonfarm payrolls report and the unemployment rate for November will arrive, accompanied by October factory orders and the Institute for Supply Management's services index for November.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange ( CBOE ) saw 1,561,657 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 714,729 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.46, while the 21-day moving average held at 0.57.

Volatility indices

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

**The volume data shown above is from the Nasdaq and NYSE exchanges only. It does not include regional volume activity, which means that other daily volume quotes you see may be higher.**

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

Overseas Trading

Overseas trading is mixed this morning, as only four of the 10 foreign indexes that we track are in positive territory. The cumulative average return on the collective stands at a gain of 0.02%. Asian markets struggled to find positive territory, as hope that the European Central Bank would contain the spreading euro zone debt contagion vied with trepidation ahead of today's jobs data in the U.S. European markets, meanwhile, appear to be in a holding pattern ahead of this morning's update on the status of U.S. employment, with most regional indexes hovering near breakeven.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The euro is continuing to gain ground on the U.S. dollar this morning, with traders bidding the currency higher after the European Central Bank reassured investors that it would work to contain the region's debt crisis. At last check, the U.S. Dollar Index was off 0.35% at 80.03. In commodities, crude futures are capitalizing on the greenback's weakness, rising 24 cents to $88.24 per barrel. Gold futures, meanwhile, have added just $2.90 to trade at $1,392.20 an ounce in London.

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

Every morning, our research staff analyzes the prior day and the overnight markets, and monitors the morning wires to give you an accurate preview of the day to come. If you enjoyed today's edition of Opening View, sign up here for free daily delivery, straight to your inbox, before the opening bell.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options
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