In parity with Europe, U.S. stocks have explored both sides of
breakeven ahead of the bell this morning. Investors initially
cheered a pledge from European finance leaders to find a solution
to the debt crisis prior to the Oct. 23 European Union (
) summit. However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has
tempered the collective optimism, warning that this weekend's
meeting will not be a cure-all for the euro zone's financial woes.
On the home front, meanwhile, Wall Street is digesting the latest
batch of earnings reports, with reports from Hasbro (
) and Halliburton (
) peppering a notably banking-centered docket. In addition, the
energy sector has taken center stage, thanks to a major merger
between Kinder Morgan (
) and El Paso Corp. (
). At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is headed
for a 14.5-point drop out of the gate, while the S&P 500 Index
(SPX) is bracing for a 4.1-point retreat.
In earnings news, Halliburton (HAL - 37.43) said third-quarter
earnings rose 26% to $683 million, or 74 cents per share, which
included an 18-cent charge related to discontinued operations.
Revenue, meanwhile, increased 40% to $6.54 billion -- a new
quarterly record -- thanks to an accelerated drilling rebound in
North America. Analysts, on average, were anticipating a per-share
profit of 92 cents on sales of $6.39 billion. At last check, HAL is
hovering about 0.8% above breakeven.
Meanwhile, Hasbro (HAS - 34.75) reported a third-quarter profit
of $171 million, or $1.27 per share, compared to $155.2 million, or
$1.09 per share, a year earlier. Net revenue jumped 5% to $1.38
billion. The results fell short of Wall Street's expectations, with
analysts, on average, calling for a per-share profit of $1.30 on
sales of $1.45 billion. In pre-market action, HAS is pointed 2.2%
In equities news, Kinder Morgan (KMI - 26.89) last night
announced plans to buy El Paso Corp. (EP - 19.59) for $38 billion
in cash and stock, or $26.87 per share, representing a premium of
37% to EP's closing price on Friday. The combined enterprise will
be worth roughly $94 billion, and will have 80,000 miles of
pipeline, the company said. Ahead of the bell, KMI is down 3.3%,
while EP is poised to open nearly 30% higher.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Citigroup
(C), Charles Schwab (SCHW), First Horizon National (FHN), Gannett
(GCI), McMoRan Exploration (MMR), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK),
Steel Dynamics (STLD), VMware (VMW), and Wells Fargo (WFC). Keep
your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar kicks off today with the Empire State
manufacturing index for October, as well as September's industrial
production and capacity utilization. Inflation data starts to roll
in Tuesday, with the release of the producer price index (PPI) and
core PPI for September. Additionally, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a conference in Boston.
Wednesday's docket features the consumer price index (CPI) and core
CPI for September, along with last month's housing starts, weekly
crude inventories, and the Fed's Beige Book report for October. The
usual report on weekly jobless claims is due out Thursday, as well
as existing home sales for September, the October Philadelphia Fed
index, and the Conference Board's index of leading economic
indicators. There are no major economic reports scheduled for
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,036,262 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to
616,890 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.60, while the 21-day moving average was 0.71.
Asian stocks ended higher today, after European finance leaders
vowed over the weekend to find a solution to the debt crisis prior
to the Oct. 23 EU summit. Among resource issues, energy stocks
gained ground amid higher crude prices, while metals giant Rio
Tinto rallied after unveiling plans to unload some of its aluminum
assets. However, the gains were relatively modest in Shanghai,
where traders are on edge ahead of the release of gross domestic
product (GDP) data on Tuesday. By the close, Hong Kong's Hang Seng
rose 2%, South Korea's Kospi climbed 1.6%, Japan's Nikkei added
1.5%, and China's Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.4%.
Over in Europe, German Finance Minister Schaeuble has injected a
dose of cold, sobering reality, warning that this weekend's EU
summit will not be a cure-all for the euro zone's financial woes.
As a result, the benchmark indexes have pared their early gains at
midday. At last check, London's FTSE 100 is up 0.2%, the French CAC
40 has added 0.1%, and the German DAX is down 0.4%.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is trading higher this morning, with the U.S.
dollar index up 0.5% at last look. Elsewhere, after tagging a
three-week best on Friday, crude futures are hovering just north of
breakeven, with the front-month contract up 3 cents at $87.03 per
barrel. On the other hand, gold futures are fractionally lower at
last check, with the malleable metal down 20 cents at $1,682.80 an
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