Opening View: Futures Head Higher After Italian Debt Sale

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economic data

Across the pond, traders are cheering that, although yields approached insupportable levels , Italy's long-term bond auction followed in the footsteps of Wednesday's short-term bond auction by attracting a respectable amount of buyers. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is trading 20 points higher ahead of the bell, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is looking to muscle its way back into positive territory for 2011.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures


In earnings news, citing tough economic conditions in international markets, Exar Corporation (EXAR - 6.67) last night reported a downwardly revised fiscal third-quarter sales and gross margin outlook. EXAR now expects revenue to range between $28 million and $30 million, compared to the previous estimate for sales of $32 million to $34 million. The chipmaker forecasts gross margin to fall in the 48% to 50% range. Shares of the stock are nearly 4% lower in pre-market trading.

In equities news, Mosaic Company (MOS - 50.29) will reduce the amount of phosphate produced by approximately 250,000 tons in the first three months of 2012, due to excessive supply concerns and stalled orders. The fertilizer company reiterated its forecast for record levels of demand over the following year. MOS is trading around 2% lower ahead of the bell.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will feature a report from Bridgeline Digital ( BLIN ). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Weekly jobless claims are due out today, and pending home sales are also on the day's docket. Plus, traders will receive the government's update on petroleum supplies one session later than usual, due to Monday's holiday. The abbreviated week wraps up on Friday with the release of the Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI).

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange ( CBOE ) saw 514,753 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 362,739 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.70, while the 21-day moving average was 0.70.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Asian markets ended mixed today, with traders on edge ahead of today's Italian bond auction. In Japan, the euro's free-fall versus the yen kept exporters in the red, while commodity stocks sank across the region amid concerns over the fiscal health of Europe. On the other hand, traders in South Korea essentially shrugged off a lackluster round of factory data, while Alibaba.com bucked the downtrend in Hong Kong on reports that the company is preparing a bid to acquire Yahoo. By the close, China's Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2%, South Korea's Kospi closed fractionally higher, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.7%, and Japan's Nikkei fell 0.3%.

Meanwhile, over in Europe, the major equity benchmarks are clinging to slight gains at midday. Italy's longer-term bonds generated respectable demand in today's much-anticipated debt sale, but 10-year yields remain perilously close to the alarm-inducing 7% level. Against this mixed backdrop, London's FTSE 100 is up 0.4%, the French CAC 40 has added 0.3%, and the German DAX is 0.4% higher.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar index is looking to continue its rise today, taking advantage of the declining euro. The greenback is trading 0.4% higher at $80.82. After losing its perch atop the century mark, crude oil is looking to shake off yesterday's losses , with the front-month contract up 0.3% to trade at $99.61 per barrel. Gold futures, on the other hand, are set to extend their losses to a sixth straight session, with the malleable metal last seen 2.17% lower at $1,530.20 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

For an explanation of how to use this information, check out our Education Center topics on Option Volume and Open Interest Configurations .

Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: BLIN , CBOE

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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