Opening View: U.S. Stock Futures Rally as Oil Retreats; Jobs Data on Tap

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ISM

Technically, the Dow enters today trading above support in the 12,000-12,050 region, though resistance remains firm in the 12,200-12,250 area. What's more, the DJIA's 10-day and 20-day moving averages are on the verge of a bearish cross near 12,185. The SPX is facing a similar convergence of trendlines at the 1,320 level, adding to the potential for technical resistance in the area. Support for the broad-market index, meanwhile, should hold firm in the 1,300-1,305 region.

In earnings news, Big Lots Inc. ( BIG ) said that its fourth-quarter net income rose to $110.1 million, or $1.46 per share, from $105.4 million, or $1.27 per share, a year ago. Sales climbed to $1.52 billion from $1.46 billion last year. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.38 per share on sales of $1.51 billion. Big Lots reported that same-store sales for the period were flat.

On the merger and acquisition front, Family Dollar Stores Inc. ( FDO ) said that its board has rejected Trian Group's bid of roughly $7.6 billion, noting that the offer "significantly undervalues" the company. The company's board also said in a press release that a sale is currently not in the best interests of shareholders. Family Dollar added that it has adopted a shareholder-rights plan.

After the close last night, Collective Brands ( PSS ) suffered a fourth-quarter loss attributable to the company of $10.1 million, or 16 cents per share. Revenue increased 4.3% to $773.8 million. Analysts had forecast a loss of 18 cents per share on revenue of $764.4 million.

Finally, Foot Locker Inc. ( FL ) banked a fourth-quarter profit of $57 million, or 36 cents per share. Excluding charges, the company would have earned 39 cents per share. Revenue edged up to $1.39 billion from $1.33 billion. Analysts had projected the company to earn 36 cents per share on revenue of $1.37 billion.

Earnings Preview

On the earnings front, H.J. Heinz (HNZ), Marvell Technology (MRVL), Novell (NOVL), and Silver Wheaton (SLW) are slated to release their quarterly earnings reports. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Today's key economic reports include weekly jobless claims and the Institute of Supply Management's nonmanufacturing index for February. We round out the week with a bang tomorrow, with all eyes on the Labor Department's February nonfarm payrolls report and the unemployment rate. 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 1,132,461 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 611,975 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.54, while the 21-day moving average held at 0.57.

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 has come on strong this morning, as nine of the 10 foreign indexes that we track are in positive territory. The cumulative average return on the collective stands at a gain of 0.86%. In Asia, an upbeat outlook from Chinese banks provided lift for Hong Kong shares, while South Korean stocks rebounded amid a wave of bargain hunting and better-than-expected manufacturing data. Across the pond in Europe, traders have bid stocks higher in the wake of a retreat in oil prices, while a round of solid corporate earnings also helped to boost investor sentiment. Additionally, Eurostat reported that January retail sales for the region rose 0.4%, while its latest estimate on fourth-quarter gross domestic product remained unchanged at a gain of 0.3% from the previous period.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar gained ground against most of its foreign rivals in Asian trading, but the greenback has pulled back to breakeven heading into the open on Wall Street. In fact, the U.S. Dollar Index was last seen flat at 76.67 in premarket trading. Meanwhile, commodities are also faltering this morning. Crude futures have fallen 57 cents to $101.66 per barrel, as oil prices retreat from their highest perch since September 2008. What's more, gold futures are also falling this morning, with the lead contract off $9.40 at $1,428.30 an ounce in London. On Wednesday, gold prices tagged yet another all-time high, settling at $1,437.70 an ounce.

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

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: BIG , FDO , FL , ISM , PSS

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