U.S. stocks are set to start the week on a semi-sour note,
thanks to waning enthusiasm over last week's
European Union (
. What's more, despite a
among euro-zone nations, Moody's Investors Service said it's not
impressed. Specifically, the agency said it still intends to review
the ratings of each EU country in the first quarter of next year,
citing "the continued absence of decisive policy measures." Against
this backdrop -- and with little equities and economic data to
digest -- the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and S&P 500
Index (SPX) are headed for modest losses out of the gate.
In equities news, Ingersoll-Rand (IR - 33.06) upped its
quarterly dividend by 33% to 16 cents per share, marking the firm's
second such increase this year. The dividend is payable March 30 to
shareholders of record on March 12.
Elsewhere, Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ - 25.52) late Friday announced
changes to its Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX). Specifically, the exchange
operator said Fossil (
), Avago Technologies (
), Randgold Resources (
), Hansen Natural (
), and Nuance Communications (NUAN) will be added to the index
before the market opens on Dec. 19. The firms will replace Flir
Systems (FLIR), Illumina (ILMN), NII Holdings (NIHD), Urban
Outfitters (URBN), and Qiagen NV(QIA).
Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Avanir
Pharmaceuticals (AVNR), FuelCell Energy (FCEL), and Quanex Building
Products (NX). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar kicks off today with the release of the
Treasury Budget for November. On Tuesday, reports are due out on
retail sales and business inventories. Then, at 2:15 p.m. Eastern,
the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will announce its latest
policy decision. Wednesday's docket features data on import and
export prices, as well as the usual update on domestic petroleum
supplies. A slew of economic reports are due out on Thursday,
including the producer price index (PPI), the Empire State
manufacturing index, the Philadelphia Fed index, industrial
production and capacity utilization, and weekly jobless claims.
Finally, the week's slate of economic events wraps up on Friday
with the release of the consumer price index (CPI).
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 737,740 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to
521,789 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.71, while the 21-day moving average was 0.71.
Stocks in Asia ended mostly higher today, following suit with
Wall Street's Friday rally. Traders were relieved after European
leaders agreed to an inter-governmental pact to address the
region's fiscal woes, but Shanghai-listed equities sat out the
day's advance. New data indicates that Chinese export growth slowed
in November, suggesting that the euro-zone crisis is weighing on
demand. By the close, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.4%, South Korea's Kospi
added 1.3%, China's Shanghai Composite shed 1%, and Hong Kong's
Hang Seng fell 0.06%.
European shares are wallowing in the red at midday, thanks in
part to a negative note from Moody's. Despite some progress at last
week's EU summit, the ratings agency reiterated the threat of
potential downgrades, as "sovereign and bank debt markets [are]
prone to acute dislocation which policy makers will find
increasingly hard to contain." As a result, financial stocks are
pacing the decline, with Societe Generale losing ground in Paris
and Royal Bank of Scotland backpedaling in Britain. At last check,
the German DAX is down 2.1%, the French CAC 40 is off 1.2%, and
London's FTSE 100 is 0.7% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is on the rebound this morning, with the U.S.
dollar index up 0.7%. Crude oil, meanwhile, is on the decline, with
the front-month contract last seen 1.1% lower at $98.35 per barrel.
Finally, gold futures have also retreated in early action,
surrendering 1.9% to breach the $1,700-an-ounce marker. At last
check, the front-month contract was trading at $1,684.50 an
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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