The market's positive momentum sputtered out on Tuesday
afternoon, resulting in a day of modest losses -- but U.S. stocks
are currently set to kick off the session on a high note, following
suit with their overseas counterparts. Ahead of the open, gold
futures have soared to a new record high, while crude oil futures
have maintained a perch atop $108 per barrel. Against this
backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) is poised to
resume battle with the 12,400 level, while the S&P 500 Index
(SPX ) is flirting with a 7-point lead. However, lackluster
earnings guidance from Monsanto (MON - 73.32) could rain on the
In equities news, American Superconductor (AMSC - 24.88) last
night warned of a fourth-quarter loss, and said it now expects
quarterly revenue of less than $42 million. Analysts, on average,
were calling for a fourth-quarter profit of 32 cents per share on
sales of $119 million. In addition, the firm slashed its full-year
profit projection to less than $355 million, compared to its prior
guidance for sales of $430 million to $440 million. The maker of
wind-turbine gear said the "primary cause" of the trimmed estimates
was a recent refusal of shipments by Sinovel Wind Group, which
represented about 70% of AMSC's revenue in 2009. In pre-market
action, the shares of AMSC have fallen more than 44%.
Meanwhile, after spending Tuesday in halted-trading limbo,
Optimer Pharmaceuticals (OPTR - 13.80) last night said a Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted unanimously to
recommend the firm's experimental antibiotic for the treatment of
Clostridium difficile infection (
). According to Thomson Reuters, the drug is expected to generate
sales of about $203 million. The FDA is expected to unveil its
final decision on fidaxomicin by May 30. At last check, OPTR is on
pace to give up about 3%.
Meanwhile, DISH Network (DISH - 24.31) confirmed that it won the
auction for bankrupt Blockbuster Inc.'s assets, with the media
mogul's bid valued at $320 million, the
Wall Street Journal
reported. After adjusting for items such as available cash and
inventory, DISH said it expects to pay about $228 million in cash
for the assets. The deal is expected to close sometime in the
second quarter. At last check, DISH is trading 0.2% lower.
On the earnings front, Monsanto Company (
) said fiscal second-quarter net income jumped 15% on solid seed
sales and improved profit margins. For the quarter, the
agricultural issue earned $1 billion, or $1.88 per share. Excluding
items, MON earned $1.87 per share, surpassing analysts'
expectations for per-share earnings of $1.84. Looking ahead,
though, the company expects full-year earnings to dock between
$2.66 and $2.79 per share, falling short of the Street's estimate
of full-year earnings of $2.86 per share. Ahead of the bell, MON
has surrendered 0.7%.
Today we'll hear earnings reports from MSC Industrial Direct (
), Apogee Enterprises (
), Bed Bath & Beyond (
), Immucor (BLUD), and Ruby Tuesday (RT). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar today will feature the weekly crude
inventories report, plus the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA)
mortgage applications index. Thursday will bring us weekly jobless
data and February's consumer credit report, while the economic
agenda winds down on Friday with the release of the government's
wholesale inventories report.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,201,700 call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to
697,086 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
dipped to 0.58, while the 21-day moving average fell to 0.61.
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Asian stocks were mixed today, with Chinese equities finishing
higher in celebration of the country's recent rate hike. In Japan,
meanwhile, stocks ended in the red on continued concerns about the
pace of the post-earthquake recovery. Leading the laggards yet
again was Tokyo Electric Power, which fell to an all-time low after
being forced to dump radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean. By
the close, the Shanghai Composite tacked on 1.14%, while Japan's
Nikkei finished 0.3% lower.
European markets were headed higher at last check, with banking
stocks pacing the advancing equities on news that recently
downgraded Portugal hosted a successful bond auction. In addition,
Germany's Commerzbank AG was up more than 3% after announcing plans
to sell shares and repay debt. Meanwhile, Electricite de France SA
was leading the bearish minority, after France's government said it
would freeze natural gas prices. At last check, London's FTSE 100
was up 0.6%, Germany's DAX has added almost 0.7%, and the Madrid
General has rallied nearly 1.3%.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar is trending lower this morning, as the U.S.
Dollar Index was seen hovering around 75.59. Elsewhere, crude
futures have backpedaled from 30-month highs, but remain above the
$108-per-barrel marker. In electronic trading, the May crude
futures contract has given back 0.1% to flirt with $108.21 per
barrel. Finally, gold futures have continued their quest for record
highs, as China's unexpected rate hike has whetted investors'
appetites for a currency hedge. At last check, the front-month
contract has added nearly 0.6% to trade at $1,460.80 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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