Stocks are hovering close to breakeven this morning, as Wall
Street awaits a three-session onslaught of unemployment data.
Already this morning, the folks at Challenger, Gray & Christmas
said the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose to the
highest level since April 2009 last month. Specifically, employers
announced 115,730 planned pink slips in September -- more than
twice the total of August, and roughly three times that of
September 2010. Elsewhere, investors are still bracing for the
latest data from Automatic Data Processing (
), which should provide further clues ahead of Uncle Sam's highly
anticipated nonfarm payrolls report, slated for release on Friday.
Against this cautious backdrop -- and despite a rally in Europe --
futures are mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
lingering about 15 points south of breakeven, and the broader
S&P 500 Index (SPX) trading fractionally higher ahead of the
In earnings news, Acme Packet (APKT - 42.83) warned last night
that it now expects an adjusted third-quarter profit of 20 cents to
22 cents per share, with revenue arriving near $70 million. The
preliminary results fell way short of Wall Street's consensus
estimates, which were calling for a profit of 30 cents per share on
$82.8 million in revenue. "Our third-quarter results were adversely
impacted by a very large opportunity at one of the two largest
service providers in North America," explained President and CEO
Andy Ory. "We now expect this opportunity to close in the first
half of the fourth quarter." APKT is slated to report its
third-quarter results in full after the market closes on Thursday,
Oct. 20. In pre-market trading, APKT is pointed 14% lower.
Elsewhere, Yum Brands (YUM - 49.44) banked a third-quarter
profit of $383 million, or 80 cents per share, up 7.3% from its
year-ago earnings of $357 million, or 74 cents per share. On an
adjusted basis, YUM earned 83 cents per share, while revenue
improved 14% to $3.27 billion. Analysts, on average, were looking
for a profit of 83 cents per share on $3.10 billion in revenue. A
stronger foothold in China saved the quarter for the fast-food
behemoth, with a 19% same-store sales surge in the key emerging
market offsetting a 3% decline in the U.S. Looking ahead, YUM
backed its forecast for full-year earnings growth of "at least"
12%, excluding items. At last check, YUM is headed for a 0.9% drop
out of the gate.
Finally, Global Payments (GPN - 40.85) said its fiscal
first-quarter earnings rose 30% to $64 million, or 79 cents per
share, from $49.4 million, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, GPN earned 88 cents per share. Revenue,
meanwhile, grew 23% to $542.8 million. Analysts, on average, were
anticipating a slimmer per-share profit of 74 cents on $518.5
million in sales. Looking ahead, GPN lifted its fiscal 2012
adjusted earnings forecast to a range between $3.46 and $3.54 per
share, up from its prior outlook of $3.35 to $3.43 per share. Ahead
of the bell, GPN is poised to chip away at its year-to-date deficit
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Acuity
), Costco Wholesale (
), Marriott International (
), Monsanto (
), and Ruby Tuesday (RT). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
Employment data starts to roll in on today, with the release of
ADP's private payrolls report for September. Also due out is the
ISM services index for September, as well as the usual report on
weekly petroleum supplies. Weekly jobless claims are the lone
economic report of note on Thursday. Finally, Friday's marquee
event is the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report for
September. Also on the day's docket are wholesale inventories and
consumer credit for August.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,301,264 call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to
1,013,454 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call
ratio arrived at 0.78, while the 21-day moving average was
Conversely, the major European benchmarks are pointed higher at
midday. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office expressed
a general lack of surprise at the Moody's downgrade, and traders
seem to share the government's nonchalance. Instead, stocks are on
the upswing after the
reported that euro-zone finance ministers are working toward a plan
to recapitalize financial institutions. "Capital positions of
European banks must be reinforced to provide additional safety
margins and thus reduce uncertainty," said Olli Rehn, commissioner
of economic and monetary affairs, in a statement to the paper. At
last check, the German DAX has jumped 3.4%, the French CAC 40 is up
2.8%, and London's FTSE 100 is 2.1% higher.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback has given back some of its recent gains this
morning, with the U.S. dollar index down about 0.8% at last check.
After falling to a one-year low on Tuesday, crude oil futures are
on the rebound, thanks to a favorable supplies report.
Specifically, the American Petroleum Institute last night said
domestic oil supplies fell by 3.1 million barrels last week,
compared to economists' expectations for an uptick in inventories.
Against this backdrop, crude oil futures are up $2.35, or 3.1%, to
hover just north of $78 per barrel. Meanwhile, gold futures have
extended yesterday's retreat, with the precious metal last seen
$4.80, or 0.3%, lower at $1,611.20 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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