Opening View: Stocks Set to Soar as Street Celebrates Payrolls Report

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The major market indexes are poised to start the second quarter on a high note, after the government's highly anticipated payrolls report surpassed economists' expectations. More specifically, the Labor Department this morning said 216,000 nonfarm jobs were created in March, while the unemployment rate docked at 8.8% -- the lowest in two years. Economists, on average, were calling for about 185,000 additional jobs last month, and expected the unemployment rate to hit 9%. Elsewhere, NASDAQ OMX Group (NDAQ - 25.84) and IntercontinentalExchange (ICE - 123.54) will be in the non-payrolls spotlight, after the duo upped the ante for NYSE Euronext (NYX - 35.17). Ahead of the bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) is up more than 64 points, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX ) is trading about 5.6 points higher.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In equities news, NASDAQ OMX Group ( NDAQ ) and IntercontinentalExchange ( ICE ) this morning announced a bid to buy NYSE Euronext ( NYX ) for about $11.3 billion in cash and stock, or roughly $42.50 per share -- representing a premium of 19% to rival Deutsche Boerse's current offer for the exchange. At last check, the shares of NDAQ have surrendered about 4%, ICE is down roughly 2.5%, and NYX is poised to jump more than 11% at the opening bell.

On the earnings front, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD - 7.04) reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.5 million, or 2 cents per share, reversing its year-ago profit of $500,000, or 1 penny per share. Revenue for the quarter increased 6% to $91.7 million. Going forward, Krispy Kreme warned that it plans to implement various price increases in order to offset rising commodity costs. Ahead of the bell, the shares of KKD are off 9%.

Meanwhile, DemandTec (DMAN - 13.16) swallowed a fourth-quarter loss of $2.9 million, or 9 cents per share. Excluding items, DMAN raked in a profit of 3 cents per share, while revenue rose 14% to $22.3 million. Gross margin contracted to 66.1% from 67.4%, as operating expenses jumped 13% during the quarter. Analysts, on average, were looking for a profit of 3 cents per share on revenue of $22.2 million. At last look, DMAN is down 5%.

Finally, Xyratex (XRTX - 11.16) reported a first-quarter profit of $4.7 million, or 15 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, earnings arrived at 24 cents per share, and revenue weighed in at $360.5 million. Consensus estimates on Wall Street were calling for a profit of 22 cents per share on revenue of $374.3 million. In pre-market action, XRTX is poised to open about 10% lower.

Earnings Preview

There are no notable earnings reports on tap today. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Aside from the nonfarm payrolls report, also on tap today are construction spending for February, the ISM's manufacturing index, and domestic auto sales data for March.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange ( CBOE ) saw 1,113,466 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 626,690 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio jumped to 0.56, while the 21-day moving average was flat at 0.62.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

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

Overseas Trading

Asian stocks ended mostly higher today, with Chinese securities pacing the advancers on the heels of encouraging manufacturing data. By the close, Shanghai-listed stocks added 1.3%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tacked on 1.2%. On the flip side, Indian stocks were struggling to extend their eight-session winning streak, while Japan-listed equities settled lower on lingering concerns about radioactive water near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power complex. Leading the laggards was Tokyo Electric Power -- owner of the aforementioned plant -- which surrendered 3.7% on news that the Japanese government may inject public funds into the company.

European markets were also in the black, after the stress tests of Ireland's banks were in line with expectations. Furthermore, Ireland's government said it will radically restructure the banking industry, and will trim the number of domestic banks by creating two huge financial institutions: Bank of Ireland ( IRE ), and a combination of Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and the EBS Building Society. Elsewhere, banking stocks were also leading London markets higher, after a report in the Financial Times indicated that Britain's Independent Commission on Banking study -- set for release April 11 -- will be better than expected. At last check, the FTSE 100 has advanced 0.9%, while Germany's DAX has rallied nearly 1.2%.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar is trending higher this morning, as the U.S. Dollar Index was seen hovering around 76.12 Elsewhere, crude futures are poised to extend their quest for new highs today, thanks to reports that government loyalists in Libya have gained ground in key oil towns. In electronic trading, the May crude futures contract has added almost 0.5% to flirt with $107.21 per barrel. Finally, gold futures have pulled back from record highs, retreating 0.3% to linger near $1,435.60 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: CBOE , ICE , IRE , NDAQ , NYX

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