Opening View: U.S. Stock Futures Higher Ahead of Bernanke, Manufacturing Data


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Technically, the DJIA enters March trading above its 10-day moving average for the first time since Feb. 18. The Dow is also hovering above potential short-term support at the 12,200 level. The 12,250 area could create a speed bump early in the session, while the 12,300 area could pose a significant technical hurdle. The SPX is also trading above its 10-day and 20-day trendlines, though the broad-market index is staring up at a potential near-term sticking point in the 1,330-1,335 region.

In equity news, AutoZone Inc. ( AZO ) said that its second-quarter net income rose 20% to $148.1 million, or $3.34 per share, from $123.3 million, or $2.46 per share, last year. Revenue increased to $1.66 billion from $1.51 billion a year ago. Wall Street was looking for earnings of $3.06 per share on revenue of $1.63 billion, according to Thomson Reuters .

Elsewhere, FBR Capital downgraded natural gas concern Range Resources Corp. ( RRC ) to "market perform" from "outperform." According to analysts at the brokerage firm, "Though we continue to remain fans of the assets and management team, we believe that the lighter-than-expected proceeds from [the] sale of its Barnett assets and near-term price concerns will keep a lid on near-term stock price appreciation." FBR Capital had been expecting Range Resources to sell its Barnett shale assets for $1.4 billion. The company actually sealed the deal for $900 million.

Finally, Noble Energy Inc. ( NBL ) should be in focus this morning, after the company announced that it received a deep-water drilling permit from U.S. regulators for the Gulf of Mexico. "This is the first permit issued to resume drilling activities at a well suspended during the moratorium," Noble said.

Earnings Preview

On the earnings front, Domino's Pizza ( DPZ ), Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV), and ReneSola (SOL) are slated to release their quarterly earnings reports. Keep your browser at for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index, as well as auto sales data for February, are on tap for today. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will begin a two-day tour of Capitol Hill with testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. The pace picks up tomorrow, with the ADP payroll report for February, Bernanke's testimony before the House Finance Committee, the latest Beige Book from the Fed, and the regularly scheduled update on domestic oil supplies.

Key economic reports on Thursday include weekly jobless claims and the ISM's nonmanufacturing index for February. On Friday, all eyes will be on the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report for February, with a Dow Jones survey revealing expectations for an increase of 192,000 jobs. Later in the session, January's factory orders will hit the Street.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,188,095 call contracts traded on Monday, compared to 641,081 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.54, while the 21-day moving average held at 0.58.

Volatility indices

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

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 mixed this morning, with only six of the 10 foreign indexes that we track in positive territory. The cumulative average return on the collective stands at a gain of 0.38%. In Asian trading, India's Sensex has rocketed higher after the country's federal budget didn't raise excise duties, as expected. Indian automakers were also broadly higher following news of better-than-expected February sales. Elsewhere, Chinese stocks edged higher after Beijing reported that the country's PMI slowed to 52.2 in February. European markets, meanwhile, are mixed this morning, with mining stocks heading higher, while banking shares slipped in sympathy with HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC), which recieved multiple downgrades following Monday's earnings report.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar continues to struggle in premarket trading this morning, with investors weighing Chinese economic data, turmoil in the Middle East, and scheduled comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Heading into the open, the U.S. Dollar Index is off 0.06% at 76.85. Earlier this morning, the index fell to 76.73, its lowest perch since Nov. 8, 2010. Commodities are modestly higher, with crude futures up 6 cents at $97.03 per barrel, while gold has added $8.10 to trade at $1,418 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 Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options
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