U.S. stocks are pointed lower this morning, as investors digest
uninspiring economic data from China and await another round of
reports on the home front. Specifically, China's manufacturing
sector contracted for a third straight month in September,
exacerbating concerns about the health of the global economy.
Against this backdrop, Wall Street is anxious ahead of the
Institute for Supply Management's (
) report on Chicago-area manufacturing, as well as the government's
personal income and spending data. In addition, a notable gauge of
consumer confidence is slated for release later this morning, which
could also set the tone for the last session of the third quarter.
In pre-market trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is
trading 90 points south of fair value, while the tech-rich Nasdaq
Composite (COMP) is set to extend yesterday's retreat.
In earnings news, Micron Technology, Inc. (MU - 5.87) said it
swung to a fourth-quarter loss of $135 million, or 14 cents per
share, down from its year-ago profit of $342 million, or 32 cents
per share. Meanwhile, revenue fell 14% to $2.14 billion. MU's
results were mixed, however, as the Street had forecast earnings of
a penny per share on revenue of $2.11 billion. The semiconductor
company claims that significantly lower prices for its memory chips
are to blame for the quarterly loss. MU also reported that gross
margin fell to 15% from 22% in the third quarter, while analysts
were expecting gross margin of 20.48%. At last check, MU is set to
open 5.8% lower.
Meanwhile, DemandTec (DMAN - 6.05) reported a second-quarter
loss of $4.4 million, or 13 cents a share, compared to a loss of
$2.9 million, or 9 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding items, DMAN lost 2 cents per share, matching the
consensus estimate. Similarly, revenue rose 8% to $22.02 million,
in line with Wall Street's expectations.
Finally, Ingersoll-Rand (IR - 31.96) this morning trimmed its
third-quarter and full-year earnings and revenue forecasts, citing
a stronger dollar and lower-than-expected demand for security
systems in North America. Now, the company anticipates
third-quarter earnings of 77 cents to 80 cents per share on revenue
of $3.9 billion to $3.95 billion. Previously, IR forecast
third-quarter earnings of 85 cents to 95 cents per share on $4.05
billion to $4.15 billion in sales. Meanwhile, the company projected
full-year earnings of $2.70 to $2.80 per share on revenue of $14.85
billion to $15 billion, down from its previous estimates for a
per-share profit of $2.90 to $3.10 on sales of $15.3 billion to
$15.5 billion. Ahead of the bell, IR is bracing for a 5.5%
There are no other earnings reports of note today. Keep your
for more news as it breaks.
We'll wrap up the week with reports on personal income and
spending for August, the latest Reuters/UMich sentiment index, and
the Chicago purchasing managers index (
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (
) saw 768,438 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to
620,753 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.81, while the 21-day moving average was 0.72.
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Major European indexes are in the red at midday, pressured by
weak manufacturing data out of China and an unexpectedly steep rise
in euro-zone inflation. Data released today showed a 3% increase in
annual consumer prices, marking the largest jump in nearly three
years. As a result, traders are now anxious that inflationary
concerns could preclude a highly anticipated interest-rate cut from
the central bank. At last check, the German DAX is down 3%, the
French CAC 40 is off 2%, and London's FTSE 100 is 1.6% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback has gained ground against its foreign rivals, with
the U.S. dollar index up about 0.4% at last check. Crude futures,
meanwhile, have given back most of Thursday's gains, with the
front-month contract down 57 cents, or 0.7%, at $81.57 per barrel.
On the other hand, gold futures have erased yesterday's modest
decline, tacking on $6.50, or 0.4%, to trade near $1,623.80 an
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