The long holiday weekend apparently refreshed the bulls, with
U.S. stocks pointed higher ahead of the bell. Data from China is
luring buyers from the sidelines, with traders digesting the
country's latest gross domestic product (
) figures. On the home front, meanwhile, Wall Street is waiting to
kick off a week
chock-full of financial-related earnings reports
, with TD Ameritrade (
), Citigroup (
), and Wells Fargo (
) among the companies in today's spotlight. Against this backdrop,
the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is headed for a
triple-digit lead out of the gate.
In equities news, Carnival Corp. (CCL - 34.28) is bracing for a
17.8% drop in the first session since its Costa Concordia cruise
ship capsized off the coast of Italy. According to the latest
reports, 29 people -- four crew members and 25 passengers -- are
still missing from the vessel. Furthermore, the liner's captain
reportedly defied orders to return on board and oversee rescue
operations. Ahead of the bell, no fewer than three analysts have
downgraded and/or lowered their price targets on CCL.
In earnings news, TD Ameritrade (AMTD - 16.30) was the first of
many financial firms to step into the spotlight this week. Before
the open, the company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $152
million, or 27 cents per share, compared to a year-ago profit of
$145 million, or 25 cents per share. Revenue, meanwhile, remained
relatively flat at $653.4 million. Analysts, on average, were
anticipating a profit of 26 cents per share on sales of $671.5
million. At last check, AMTD is set to open slightly lower.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Citigroup
), Wells Fargo (
), Forest Laboratories (
), McMoRan Exploration (MMR), Cree (CREE), and Linear Technology
(LLTC). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar kicks off the holiday-shortened week with
the Empire State manufacturing index. On Wednesday, Wall Street
will see the Labor Department's producer price index (PPI) and core
PPI, as well as the Fed's monthly report on industrial production
and capacity utilization. The regularly scheduled report on weekly
jobless claims will hit the Street on Thursday, as well as the
holiday-delayed crude inventories data, the Philly Fed
manufacturing index, monthly housing starts and building permits,
and December's consumer price index (CPI) and core CPI. Finally,
Friday wraps up with the latest data on existing home sales.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,187,252 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to
721,204 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.61, while the 21-day moving average was 0.67.
Stocks in Asia ended firmly higher today, thanks to a solid dose
of economic data out of Beijing. China's GDP rose by 8.9% during
the fourth quarter, besting expectations for a more modest rise of
8.7%. While stronger than forecast, the GDP gain was actually the
weakest showing in over two years -- suggesting policymakers may
refrain from additional tightening measures in the short term.
Traders on the mainland also cheered a healthy jump in retail
sales, as well as a double-digit rise in industrial output. By the
close, China's Shanghai Composite surged 4.2%, Hong Kong's Hang
Seng added 3.2%, South Korea's Kospi climbed 1.8%, and Japan's
Nikkei edged up 1.1%.
European markets are also pointed higher at midday, with
equities displaying their resilience after Standard & Poor's
Monday downgrade of the European Financial Stability Facility
(EFSF). The bulls have been encouraged by a robust reading on
German economic sentiment, along with cooling Spanish bond yields.
At last look, the German DAX is up 1.8%, the French CAC 40 has
gained 1.3%, and London's FTSE 100 has added 1.2%.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback has pulled back this morning, with the U.S. dollar
index down about 0.7%. Meanwhile, crude futures have climbed
back atop the century mark
, with the front-month contract up 2% at $100.86 per barrel.
Finally, gold futures are also on the rebound, with the malleable
metal last seen 2% higher at $1,663.30 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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