Opening View: DJIA Lower on Berlusconi Resignation Rumors

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U.S. stock futures are pointed south this morning. Despite last week's unexpected dose of promising domestic data, coming in the form of a drop in unemployment , investors seem unable to take their cues from anywhere but across the pond. Italy has snagged the spotlight from Greece in the ongoing European fiscal fiasco. Specifically, rumors are swirling of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's resignation in the face of Tuesday's scheduled budget vote. Against this backdrop, the DJIA finds itself trading 24 points south of fair value, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is set to open about 4 points lower.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

Meanwhile, Cracker Barrel (CBRL - 42.93) said today that it expects fiscal first-quarter earnings to range between 99 cents and $1.04 per share, with revenue predicted to dip 0.1% to $598.4 million. Analysts, meanwhile, were looking for a first-quarter profit of 90 cents per share on $603.2 million in revenue. For the full year, CBRL anticipates a profit of $4.10 to $4.25 per share, up from its previous outlook of $4.05 to $4.20 per share. CBRL is up over 2% in pre-market trading.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from American Public Education ( APEI ), BroadSoft ( BSFT ), Cameco ( CCJ ), CareFusion ( CFN ), Coeur d'Alene Mines ( CDE ), Delcath Systems (DCTH), Demand Media (DMD), Eagle Bulk Shipping (EGLE), Echostar (SATS), Hologic (HOLX), Limelight Networks (LLNW), Progressive (PGR), Rackspace Hosting (RAX), and Vivus (VVUS). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The economic calendar kicks off today with the Fed's monthly report on consumer credit, while the NFIB small business optimism index is slated to hit the Street on Tuesday. Data on wholesale inventories is due out Wednesday, along with the usual report on domestic petroleum supplies. Thursday brings a relative onslaught of economic news, including import/export prices, the U.S. trade balance, the Treasury budget, and the weekly report on jobless claims. The week wraps up on Friday with the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey for early November.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 828,748 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to 673,138 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.81, while the 21-day moving average was 0.68.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended lower today, with exporters taking a hit due to ongoing uncertainty in the euro zone. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he will step down from his post once a coalition government is formed, and the newly elected slate of lawmakers must still secure approval for the country's bailout deal. Meanwhile, Chinese property stocks slipped, after Premier Wen Jiabao confirmed that the government is looking to drive a "reasonable correction" in the housing market. By the close, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up 0.8%, China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.5%, South Korea's Kospi declined 0.5%, and Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.4%.

The major European indexes are trading south of breakeven at midday, as traders keep a wary eye trained on Italy. In addition to the political turmoil in Greece, new rumors indicate that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may also be on his way out. Speculation today suggests the famously loose-lipped politician could be forced to resign, as he faces a rising mutiny among his own party members ahead of a crucial budget vote on Tuesday. Stocks have pared their early losses at last check, suggesting that many Europeans are hoping for a changing of the guard in Rome. Currently, the German DAX is down 0.04%, the French CAC 40 is 0.10% lower, and London's FTSE 100 is off 0.4%.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: APEI , BSFT , CCJ , CDE , CFN

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