Opening View: Dow Futures Up as Street Awaits Key Economic Reports

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Stocks fell for a sixth straight day on Wednesday, as the Street continued to process Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's Tuesday speech . However, the situation might be looking up today, as several key reports are set to hit the Street. In addition to the latest reports on U.S. jobs and trade data, traders are likely keeping an eye on the European Central Bank (ECB), which is in the midst of several important rate announcements. Just a few minutes ago, the financial institution announced that it would be keeping rates unchanged at 1.25%. Attention now turns to ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, who will take the stage at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, and is expected to signal a July rate hike. Amid this backdrop, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) are trading roughly 32 points above fair value.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

The J.M. Smucker Company (SJM - 76.39) reported this morning that its fourth-quarter income arrived at $94.9 million, or 82 cents per share -- significantly lower than its profits of $120.6 million, or $1.01 per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, SJM banked an even fourth-quarter profit of $1.00 per share -- surpassing the consensus estimate by one penny. SJM said that its profits were helped by rising food prices, and forecast product costs rising 25% in the new fiscal year. Ahead of the open, SJM has slipped 1.8%.

In its mid-quarter update, Texas Instruments (TXN - 32.67) cut its second-quarter earnings forecast to a range between 51 cents and 55 cents per share, down from its prior view of 52 cents to 60 cents per share. TXN also took a razor to its revenue forecast; the tech giant now expects second-quarter revenue of $3.36 billion to $3.50 billion, compared to its earlier guidance of $3.41 billion to $3.69 billion. "The reductions are due to lower demand from a single wireless customer where most of our sales are baseband products," said Ron Slaymaker, TXN's head of investor relations. Nokia ( NOK ), which plummeted last week after lowering its own second-quarter sales forecast, is TXN's primary baseband client.

Men's Wearhouse (MW - 30.11) banked a first-quarter profit of $27.4 million, or 52 cents per share, doubling its year-ago earnings of $13.6 million, or 26 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, MW earned 53 cents per share, while revenue increased 23% to $580.4 million. Both figures surpassed analysts' expectations, which called for a profit of 49 cents per share on revenue of $577.3 million. Looking ahead, MW predicted second-quarter earnings of $1.02 to $1.05 per share, topping Wall Street's consensus estimate of 98 cents per share. The retailer also upped its full-year profit forecast to a range between $2.04 and $2.12 per share, compared to the average analyst estimate for 2011 earnings of $2.05 per share.

Nokia Corp. (NOK - 6.23) said today that Chief Technology Officer Richard Green will be taking a medical leave of absence. In an email, a spokesman for the telecommunications concern explained, "Rich Green is taking a medical leave of absence. During this time Henry Tirri, head of Nokia Research Center, will be the acting CTO." This news comes on the heels of a recent profit warning from NOK, which admitted that it may not make a profit in the second quarter. As a result, the stock plummeted to a 13-year low. Ahead of the open, NOK is down 4.7%.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Vail Resorts ( MTN ), Hoku Corp. ( HOKU ), National Semiconductor Corp. ( NSM ), Rentrak Corporation ( RENT ), and SeaChange International (SEAC), to name a few. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The government's weekly report on first-time unemployment filings will hit the Street today, as will the Commerce Department's wholesale inventories report. Friday will wrap up with the government's monthly import and export figures.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 952,330 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 944,313 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio docked at 0.99, while the 21-day moving average was perched at 0.69.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

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Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended mostly lower today, with banking stocks pacing the declines in Hong Kong and China. Traders may have been spooked by China Citic Bank Corp.'s plan to raise funds via rights issues, which sparked concerns about capital requirements for banks across the mainland. Meanwhile, airlines in the region were pressured by rebounding crude prices, while automakers struggled in the face of ongoing weakness in U.S. markets. However, Japan's benchmark index defied the downside bias to eke out a modest gain. By the close, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.2%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2%, South Korea's Kospi shed 0.6%, and China's Shanghai Composite slipped 1.7%.

Banking stocks are also trekking lower in Europe, as finance ministers in the region continue to clash over how best to handle the Greek debt crisis. Central banks are also in focus; the Bank of England opted to stand pat on rates, while ECB boss Jean-Claude Trichet is expected to signal a July rate hike in a news conference today. At last check, London's FTSE 100 was down roughly 1%, the French CAC 40 has gained 0.08%, and the German DAX has tacked on 0.2%.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

Crude oil futures have continued to barrel into the black this morning, after Wednesday's surprise announcement that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, would not be changing its quotas. As a result, black gold rallied some 2% on Wednesday, reclaiming the round-number $100 level in the process. Ahead of the open, crude futures are up 0.22 point, or 0.22%, to trade at $100.96. Elsewhere, gold has continued to backpedal, with futures currently trading 3.3 points, or 0.21%, lower. Finally, the U.S. dollar index is sitting on fractional losses ahead of the open, surrendering 0.06 point, or 0.08%.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

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Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: HOKU , MTN , NOK , NSM , RENT

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