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.
In equities news, NASDAQ OMX Group (
) and IntercontinentalExchange (
) this morning announced a bid to buy NYSE Euronext (
) 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.
There are no notable earnings reports on tap today. Keep your
for more news as it breaks.
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.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (
) 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
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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 (
), 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
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%.
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.
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