U.S. stocks are poised to extend
today, as Wall Street once again follows Europe's lead. Across the
pond, traders are celebrating the approval of austerity measures in
Italy's senate, which will allow the country's parliament to vote
on the bill this weekend -- and for Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi to make good on his
. On the home front, meanwhile, solid earnings from blue-chip
bigwig Walt Disney (
) have also bolstered the collective mood ahead of both the opening
bell and a round of consumer sentiment data. Against this backdrop,
the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is ready to make a run at a
weekly gain, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is headed
for a double-digit jump out of the gate.
In earnings news, Walt Disney (DIS - 34.64) saw its fiscal
fourth-quarter profit improve 30% to $1.09 billion, or 58 cents per
share, while revenue rose 7% to $10.43 billion. On an adjusted
basis, DIS earned 59 cents per share. The results surpassed
analysts' expectations, which called for a profit of 54 cents per
share on $10.36 billion in revenue. At last check, DIS is set to
open with a 3.9% lead.
Meanwhile, Molycorp (MCP - 38.70) last night reported a
third-quarter profit of $48.4 million, or 52 cents per share,
compared to last year's loss of $10.1 million, or 15 cents per
share. Excluding items, earnings arrived at 67 cents per share.
Citing a 92% increase in volume at its California-based Mountain
Pass facility, MCP said revenue skyrocketed to $138.1 million from
$8.5 million. The results came in weaker than expected, as
analysts, on average, were predicting adjusted earnings of 70 cents
per share on revenue of $162 million. Ahead of the bell, MCP is
bracing for a 6% drop.
Finally, fashion retailer Nordstrom (JWN - 49.62) reported
third-quarter earnings of $127 million, or 59 cents per share, up
6.7% from $119 million, or 53 cents per share, in the year-ago
quarter. Thanks to a healthy 7.9% growth in same-store sales,
revenue increased 14% to $2.38 billion. JWN's results fell right in
line with analysts' expectations for a per-share profit of 59 cents
on $2.38 billion in sales. For fiscal 2011, the Seattle-based
company narrowed its earnings-per-share view to $3.05 to $3.10,
from its earlier range of $2.95 to $3.10 per share. However, Wall
Street is looking for a more robust $3.14 per share in earnings. In
pre-market trading, JWN is headed 1.4% lower.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from
Brookfield Asset Management (
), D.R. Horton (
), and Tree.com (
). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The week wraps up with the Thomson Reuters/University of
Michigan consumer sentiment survey for early November.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (
) saw 845,063 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to
633,449 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.75, while the 21-day moving average was 0.69.
Asian markets ended moderately higher today, whittling a portion
of the previous session's heavy losses. Traders seemed relieved
after Italy generated respectable demand at a bond auction, with
yields backpedaling beneath the anxiety-inducing 7% benchmark. The
news was a boon for exporters, such as Hyundai and Sony. However,
investors were relatively unmoved by the Bank of Korea's decision
to stand pat on interest rates, which was widely expected. By the
close, South Korea's Kospi rallied 2.8%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng
gained 0.9%, Japan's Nikkei added 0.2%, and China's Shanghai
Composite rose 0.06%.
The bullish mood has spread to Europe, after Italian lawmakers
on Thursday voted in favor of much-needed austerity measures.
Cooling bond yields also helped traders rediscover their appetite
for risk, with battered banking stocks helping to lead the advance.
At midday, the German DAX is up 1.6%, the French CAC 40 is 0.9%
higher, and London's FTSE 100 has tacked on 0.8%.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback has continued its pullback this morning, with the
U.S. dollar down 0.3%. On the other hand, crude futures have
, with the front-month contract up 0.3% to hover just shy of $98
per barrel. Likewise, gold futures are set to snap their
three-session losing streak today, with the malleable metal last
seen 0.4% higher at $1,765.70 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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