Stocks took a beating on Wednesday, sinking in sympathy with
energy and metals prices. Ahead of the bell this morning, it looks
like the bears will once again reign supreme, with futures -- and
commodities -- pointed south. A revised demand forecast from the
International Energy Agency is weighing on black gold, with crude
oil futures steepening their slide beneath the century mark, while
a cautious forecast from blue-chip bigwig Cisco Systems (
) is also providing pre-market fodder for the bears. At last check,
the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) is trading about 52 points
below fair value, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX ) is
positioned for a 7-point drop out of the gate.
In equities news, Cisco Systems (CSCO - 17.78) last night
reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $1.8 billion, or 33 cents
per share, down 18% from the year-ago period. Excluding items, the
blue chip racked up a profit of 42 cents per share, while revenue
edged higher to $10.9 billion from $10.4 billion. Analysts, on
average, were calling for a per-share profit of 37 cents on sales
of $10.87 billion. However, CEO John Chambers cautioned of a weaker
fiscal fourth quarter, and said he doesn't see the company meeting
its long-term revenue growth target of 12% to 17% next year. At
last check, CSCO is set to start the session about 3.7% lower.
Meanwhile, Kohl's Corp. (KSS - 53.61) raked in a first-quarter
profit of $211 million, or 73 cents per share, up 6% from its
year-ago earnings. Net sales for the quarter increased 3.1% to
$4.16 billion. The results fell roughly in line with analysts'
expectations for a profit of 73 cents per share on $4.18 billion in
revenue. For the full year, KSS raised its earnings guidance to a
range between $4.25 and $4.40 per share, compared to its prior
forecast of $4.05 to $4.25 per share. Consensus estimates on Wall
Street, meanwhile, are calling for a full-year profit of $4.36 per
share. In pre-market trading, KSS is lingering around
Finally, Wall Street freshman Zipcar (ZIP - 28.63) swallowed a
widened first-quarter loss of $6.1 million, or 95 cents per share,
as total operating expenses surged 42% to $53.76 million. Revenue
for the quarter ramped up 48% to $49.1 million, boosted by a 31%
increase in membership. In a press release accompanying ZIP's
quarterly results, Chief Financial Officer Ed Goldfinger noted, "We
saw a significant uptick in usage revenue per vehicle per day,
which we consider as one of our most important performance
metrics." Ahead of the bell, ZIP is flirting with a 1% loss.
Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Evergreen
), Atlas Energy (
), Biofuel Energy Corp. (
), Body Central (
), eDiets.com (DIET), InterOil Corp. (IOC), Nordstrom (JWN), Nvidia
Corp. (NVDA), Precision Castparts (PCP), SunPower Corp. (SPWRA),
and Teekay Corp. (TK), just to name a few. Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
Today, the Street will digest the Labor Department's weekly
jobless figures and producer price data, as well as the
government's business inventories report for March and retail sales
data for April. Finally, tomorrow will feature April's consumer
price index (CPI) and core CPI, along with the Reuters/University
of Michigan consumer sentiment index.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,108,303 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared
to 746,159 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call
ratio jumped to 0.67, while the 21-day moving average remained at
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Stocks in Asia ended in the red today, mimicking commodities.
Along with resource-related equities, automakers led the laggards
in China, after data showed car sales declined for the first time
in more than two years last month. Meanwhile, a strengthening yen
weighed on exporters in Japan, with Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp.
shedding 1.9% and 1.7%, respectively. By the close, Hong Kong's
Hang Seng gave up 0.9%, Shanghai-listed stocks surrendered about
1.4%, Japan's Nikkei fell 1.5%, and South Korea's Kospi dipped
A sell-off in the commodities pits is also weighing on stocks in
Europe, with mining-related equities like Fresnillo PLC pacing the
decline in Britain. Meanwhile, insurance issues were also in the
red, with Aegon NV and Old Mutual PLC falling in the wake of
disappointing earnings reports. At last check, London's FTSE 100 is
down 1.2%, while France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX were both
trading 1.5% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is trading higher this morning, with the U.S.
dollar index up almost 0.3%. Elsewhere, after being halted for the
first time in two years on Wednesday, black gold has continued its
retreat beneath the century mark this morning. Weighing on the
commodity was an updated outlook from the International Energy
Agency, which trimmed its 2011 growth forecast for global oil
demand. At last check, June-dated crude futures have shed $1.86, or
1.9%, to flirt with $96.91 per barrel. Meanwhile, gold and silver
futures have also extended yesterday's slide, with the front-month
contracts down 1.2% and 7.8%, respectively.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
Due to technical issues, the unusual put and call charts
are unavailable today. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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