Opening View: Stock Futures Trim Gains After Modest Payroll Growth

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Editor's note: Delivery of Opening View was delayed today by technical issues related to the storm in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has pulled back from premarket highs, after payrolls data came in lighter than expected. According to the Labor Department, U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose a mere 36,000 in January, though the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 9.0%, a 21-month low. Economists were expecting a rate of 9.5% and a gain of 140,000 jobs. At last check, futures on the DJIA and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) were pointing toward an opening gain of about 9 points and 1 point, respectively.

Technically, the DJIA is headed toward its third consecutive open above the 12,000 mark. From a short-term perspective, the Dow has resistance at the 12,050 level and support at the key 12,000 region. As for the SPX, the broad-market index is set to open above the 1,300 level again. The SPX has additional support at the 1,290 region, while resistance should manifest at the 1,320 level.

In earnings news, Tyson Foods Inc. ( TSN ) reported that its first-quarter profit, excluding items, rose to 75 cents per share, as sales increased to $7.62 billion from $6.64 billion. Wall Street analysts expected Tyson to earn 62 cents per share on revenue of $7.17 billion. Looking ahead, the company said it expects challenges in 2011, but the year has the "potential to be comparable" to 2010. Operating margin during the fourth quarter rose to 6.9% from 3.2%.

Finally, JDS Uniphase Corp. ( JDSU ) reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $23.6 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $19.5 million, or 9 cents per share, for the year-earlier period. Revenue was $473.5 million, up from $342.9 million. Adjusted income was 29 cents per share. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of 19 cents per share, on revenue of $438.4 million.

Earnings Preview

On the earnings front, Aetna Inc. ( AET ), Aon Corp. ( AON ), The Clorox Company ( CLX ), Fortune Brands Inc. (FO), PPL Corporation (PPL), PulteGroup Inc. (PHM), and Weyerhaeuser Company (WY) are slated to release their quarterly earnings reports today. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the CBOE saw 1,480,279 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 872,056 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.59, while the 21-day moving average rose to 0.54.

Volatility indices

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

**The volume data shown above is from the Nasdaq and NYSE exchanges only. It does not include regional volume activity, which means that other daily volume quotes you see may be higher.**

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

Trading the News: A Contrarian View. Check out this special report from Bernie Schaeffer here.

Overseas Trading

Overseas trading is mostly higher this morning, with five of the 10 foreign indexes that we track in positive territory. Trading in Asia remained relatively, quiet as markets in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea are closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. Japan's Nikkei, however, rallied more than 1% on stronger corporate earnings and merger and acquisition activity. Across the pond in Europe, stocks are cautiously higher.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

Most currencies and commodities are trading close to breakeven this morning. At last check, the U.S. Dollar Index was higher by 0.02% at 77.76. Meanwhile, crude futures are also hovering just above breakeven, with the March contract up 13 cents at 90.67 per barrel. Gold futures, however, have shed $2.60 an ounce to trade at $1,350.40 an ounce in London.

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

Every morning, our research staff analyzes the prior day and the overnight markets, and monitors the morning wires to give you an accurate preview of the day to come. If you enjoyed today's edition of Opening View, sign up here for free daily delivery, straight to your inbox, before the opening bell.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: AET , AON , CLX , JDSU , TSN

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