Opening View: Stock Futures Flat as Greece Remains in Focus

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Wall Street appears to be easing itself into today's session, with futures on all three major market indexes sitting slightly above breakeven. With no major domestic economic reports slated for release today, traders are cautiously keeping an eye on the results of a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers regarding the region's ongoing fiscal struggles. Greece has once again taken the spotlight, as leaders try to negotiate a 100-billion euro debt-reduction plan. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and S&P 500 Index are looking to maintain last week's momentum .

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In equities news, Research In Motion Limited (RIMM - 17.00) announced this weekend that co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie will step down. Thorsten Heinswill, a former Siemens AG exec who has been with RIMM for the previous four years, will be taking over the reins. In addition, Lazaridis and Balsillie will forgo their roles as co-chairmans of the board, with current board member Barbara Stymiest filling that position. Shares of RIMM are up nearly 4% ahead of the bell.


In earnings news, Halliburton Company (HAL - 36.20) banked a fourth-quarter profit of $906 million, or 98 cents per share, a 50% jump from last year's profit of $605 million, or 66 cents per share. Excluding items, earnings arrived at $1.00 per share. Revenue was also on the rise, jumping 37% to $7.06 billion. The results came in better than expected, as analysts, on average, were calling for earnings of 99 cents per share on $6.83 billion in revenue. In pre-market trading, HAL is down around 1%.

Bank of Hawaii (BOH - 47.72) unveiled a fourth-quarter profit of $39.2 million, or 85 cents per share, down 3.3% from last year's earnings of $40.6 million, or 84 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter dipped 5.5% to $139.7 million. The results were mixed, as analysts were looking for a profit of 82 cents per share on $142 million in revenue. In a statement, the Honolulu-based lender said its results were negatively impacted by "lower debit card revenue resulting from implementation of the Durbin Amendment." However, credit-loss provisions were down significantly year-over-year, falling to $2.2 million from $5.3 million. BOH is up 1.6% ahead of the bell.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from VMware ( VMW ), Western Digital ( WDC ), Texas Instruments ( TXN ), Zions Bancorp ( ZION ), Kansas City Southern ( KSU ), and CSX Corp. (CSX). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The economic calendar kicks off late on Tuesday, with the Richmond Fed's business activity survey on tap, and President Obama's State of the Union address slated to hit airwaves after hours. On Wednesday, the latest pending home sales data and the regularly scheduled crude inventories report will hit the Street, though traders will most likely be consumed by the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) interest-rate decision and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's post-meeting speech. Thursday's economic agenda heats up with reports on jobless claims, durable goods, new home sales, and the Conference Board's index of leading indicators. Finally, Friday wraps up with the government's fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimate, as well as the final Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment figures for January.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 2,026,137 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to 1,052,269 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.52, while the 21-day moving average was 0.61.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended just south of breakeven today, with regional volume drying up as traders stepped away to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Sony and Olympus helped to propel tech stocks higher in Tokyo, after a report indicated the two companies were close to striking a lucrative partnership. However, investors kept a wary eye trained on Greece, where talks with the country's private creditors hit an apparent impasse. By the close, Japan's Nikkei was off 0.01%. Markets in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Seoul are closed for holiday.

Meanwhile, bulls have taken the reins in Europe at midday. Traders don't seem too concerned about a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers in Brussels, where the ongoing debt crisis in Greece will be among the topics of conversation. Instead, optimism was inspired by a report showing that major French lenders -- including Societe Generale and BNP Paribas -- received a significant liquidity boost by taking advantage of the European Central Bank's (ECB) discounted loans. At last look, the German DAX and French CAC 40 have each gained 0.4%, while London's FTSE 100 is 0.8% higher.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar index is set to start the week lower, with the greenback down 0.4% at last check. Crude oil, meanwhile, is hoping to shake off last week's loss , with the front-month contract up 1.1% to trade at $99.41 per barrel. Gold futures are also trading higher this morning, with the malleable metal last seen 0.6% higher at $1,673.90 an ounce.

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: KSU , TXN , VMW , WDC , ZION

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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