U.S. stock futures are pointed lower this morning, as economic
uncertainty takes the spotlight in all corners of the globe. On the
domestic front, investors are awaiting a
slew of data set to be released today
thanks to the holiday-shortened week. First up are the ADP
private-sector payrolls and weekly jobless claims, followed by
weekly crude inventories and the ISM services index.
Across the pond, focus is once again turned to euro-zone debt, as
France saw its borrowing costs rise during an auction of 10-year
notes. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
(DJIA) is looking at a 68-point drop, while the S&P 500 Index
is trading 8 points lower.
In earnings news, Mosaic Company (MOS - 52.30) unveiled a fiscal
second-quarter profit of $623.6 million, or $1.40 per share, down
39% from $1.03 billion, or $2.29 per share, in the year-ago
quarter. Net revenue, on the other hand, increased 13% to $3.01
billion. MOS' results were mixed, as Wall Street was calling for a
profit of $1.28 per share on $3.2 billion in revenue. Looking
ahead, the fertilizer company is predicting record global shipments
in 2012, but CEO Jim Prokopanko warned that Mosaic's third-quarter
performance could be negatively impacted by "near-term
macroeconomic uncertainty and cautious distributor purchasing
behavior." MOS is up fractionally ahead of the bell.
Sonic (SONC - 6.85) reported a fiscal first-quarter profit of
$5.5 million, or 9 cents per share, down from $7.2 million, or 12
cents per share, in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, revenue fell
0.7% to $128.3 million, but same-store sales edged up by 0.1%.
Analysts, on average, were expecting a profit of 9 cents per share
on revenue of $129.9 million. Furthermore, SONC's drive-in
restaurant margin decreased to 11.4% from 12.7% amid rising
commodity costs. SONC is down 2.2% in pre-market trading.
Additionally, Texas Industries, Inc. (TXI - 31.02) reported a
fiscal second-quarter loss of $21 million, or 75 cents per share,
compared to last year's loss of $11.2 million, or 40 cents per
share. The current loss includes charges of 11 cents per share and
30 cents per share related to cost-cutting and tax-related
measures, respectively. Gross margin was also on the decline,
dropping to 1.8% from 8.1%. Revenue, meanwhile, rose 5.4% to $156.1
million. The bottom-line results came in weaker than expected, as
analysts were calling for a slimmer loss of 61 cents per share on
$155 million in sales.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Apollo
), Constellation Brands (
), Family Dollar (
), Global Payments (
), Monsanto (
), Ruby Tuesday (RT), Worthington Industries (WOR), and Xyratex
(XRTX). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
Thanks to Monday's holiday, the ADP private-sector payrolls
report and weekly crude inventories will hit the Street today --
one day later than usual. Also on tap are the ISM services index
and weekly jobless claims. Finally, we wrap up the week on Friday
with the Labor Department's monthly report on nonfarm payrolls and
the unemployment rate for December.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 891,488 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to
674,004 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.76, while the 21-day moving average was 0.71.
Asian stocks ended mostly lower today, thanks to revived
concerns about the fiscal fate of the euro zone. Amid rumors of a
possible Spanish bailout and signs of strain in the Italian banking
sector, exporters were among the notable laggards of the session.
Closer to home, a stagnant reading on Chinese manufacturing
activity cemented the day's bearish bias. However, oil refiners
were buoyed by Europe's decision to block imports from Tehran. By
the close, China's Shanghai Composite lost 1%, Japan's Nikkei fell
0.8%, South Korea's Kospi gave up 0.1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng
bucked the trend by rising 0.5%.
European equities are mired in red ink at midday, after an
auction of French debt saw 10-year yields creep higher. With debt
anxieties back in the spotlight, banking issues are pacing the
decline. Italy's UniCredit is extending its slide after Wednesday's
cut-rate stock sale, while Banco Santander is slumping in Spain
after a government official warned of substantial losses on soured
property investments. At last check, the French CAC 40 is down
0.9%, the German DAX is off 0.7%, and London's FTSE 100 is 0.4%
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar is up this morning, with the greenback last seen
0.6% higher to trade at $80.65. Succumbing to
an uncertain international backdrop
, and ahead of today's inventories report, crude oil futures are
trading 0.7% lower this morning at $102.54 per barrel. Finally,
after closing yesterday at a two-week high, gold futures are down
0.2% at $1,609.70 an ounce.
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