U.S. stocks are set to
kick off 2012
on a high note, thanks to encouraging manufacturing data from China
and optimism ahead of a duo of domestic reports. Specifically,
investors are awaiting the Institute for Supply Management's (
) monthly manufacturing data, which is slated for release at 10
a.m. EST. Later in the session, traders will turn their attention
to the central bank, with the minutes from the Federal Open Market
Committee's (FOMC) mid-December meeting on tap at 2 p.m. EST. In
the meantime, commodities are in the spotlight, with crude and gold
futures exploiting a weaker dollar, and BP plc (
), Halliburton (
), and Chesapeake Energy (
) making headlines. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial
Average (DJIA) is poised to open its first session of the year with
a triple-digit jump out of the gate.
In equities news, BP plc (BP - 42.74) late yesterday called on
Halliburton (HAL - 34.51) to pay for the entire cleanup of the
April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. According to Reuters, BP
previously estimated the total costs of the cleanup at $42 billion,
though the court filing didn't specify how much BP is seeking from
HAL. In pre-market action, BP is headed 2.1% higher, while HAL is
bracing for a 0.6% drop.
Elsewhere, France's Total SA (TOT - 51.11) agreed to a joint
venture with Chesapeake Energy (CHK - 22.29) and EnerVest.
Specifically, TOT agreed to pay $2.3 billion for a 25% stake in the
duo's joint chunk of the Utica shale formation in eastern Ohio. The
latest venture with Total covers about 619,000 net acres, of which
77,000 were contributed by EnerVest, Chesapeake said. According to
analysts, Total paid roughly $14,800 per acre. At last check, the
American shares of TOT are set to open 1.6% higher, while CHK is
headed for a 3% gain out of the gate.
Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Progress
) and Team Inc. (TISI). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar for 2012 kicks off with a bang today, with
the release of the ISM manufacturing index, monthly construction
spending stats, and the minutes from the latest meeting of the
FOMC. Factory orders are slated for release on Wednesday. Thanks to
Monday's holiday, the ADP private-sector payrolls report and weekly
crude inventories will hit the Street one day later than usual, on
Thursday. Also on tap are the ISM services index and weekly jobless
claims. Finally, we wrap up the holiday-shortened week on Friday
with the Labor Department's monthly report on nonfarm payrolls and
the unemployment rate for December.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 540,216 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to
296,003 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.55, while the 21-day moving average was 0.71.
Stocks in Asia ended higher today, bolstered by upbeat economic
data out of China. The country's official purchasing managers index
improved to 50.3 in December -- up from 49.0 in November, and
surpassing consensus estimates for a smaller rise to 49.1. The
latest reading points to modest expansion in Chinese manufacturing
activity, relieving some anxieties about a slowdown in the key
emerging market. However, regional volume was relatively light,
with markets in mainland China and Japan on holiday hiatus. By the
close, South Korea's Kospi rallied 2.7%, while Hong Kong's Hang
Seng added 2.4%.
Commodity stocks are leading the gainers in Europe, thanks to
China's well-received manufacturing data. The bulls are also
cheering signs of economic health out of Germany, after a closely
watched employment report came in stronger than expected. However,
weakness in banking stocks has killed the early momentum in Paris.
At last look, London's FTSE 100 is up 1%, the German DAX has gained
0.8%, and the French CAC 40 is off 0.7%.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is headed lower this morning, with the U.S. dollar
index down 0.6%. Elsewhere, crude oil futures have extended
last week's uptrend
, with the front-month contract last seen 2.8% higher at $101.55
per barrel. Finally, gold futures are also pointed solidly higher,
with the malleable metal up 1.9% to linger near $1,595.90 an
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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