After starting the week with a
, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is trading modestly lower
this morning, thanks to anxiety ahead of a key parliamentary vote
in Slovakia. Specifically, the nation is set to weigh in on
proposed amendments to the euro zone's rescue fund, and investors
are betting on the country's Freedom and Solidarity party to leave
the government short of the necessary number of votes for approval.
On the home front, meanwhile, traders are also anxious ahead of the
Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) latest meeting minutes,
slated for release this afternoon, as well as Alcoa's (
) unofficial start to third-quarter earnings season after the
closing bell. Against this cautious backdrop, the DJIA is bracing
for a 30-point drop, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is
trading nearly 5 points south of breakeven.
In earnings news, Mistras Group (MG - 19.46) said its fiscal
first-quarter profit soared 103% to $3.2 million, or 11 cents per
share, from $1.6 million, or 6 cents per share, in the year-ago
period. Revenue, meanwhile, increased 34% to $91.4 million. On
average, analysts were expecting MG to report a profit of 10 cents
per share on sales of $81.1 million. Looking ahead, the company
backed its fiscal 2012 forecast for revenue of $375 million to 390
million, compared to Wall Street's projections of $389 million. In
pre-market trading, MG is headed for a 3.6% gain.
In equities news, Automatic Data Processing (ADP - 49.97)
confirmed that is has now acquired The RightThing, a privately
owned recruitment process outsourcer (RPO). As a global leader in
outsourcing solutions, ADP sees this move as a cost-effective means
of providing an efficient product to their customers. Regina Lee --
President of National Account Services, Major Account Services,
GlobalView, and ADP Canada business units -- explains, "Expansion
into complementary markets -- such as RPO -- will be of great
benefit to our clients and is a critical element in our plan to
grow our business."
Finally, General Mills (GIS - 39.31) this morning scored an
upgrade to "conviction buy" from "neutral" at Goldman Sachs. From a
broader sentiment standpoint, there's still plenty of room for more
bulls on the bandwagon. According to Zacks, seven out of 16
analysts maintain "hold" or worse opinions of GIS, which has
outperformed the SPX by nearly 17% during the past 60 sessions.
Ahead of the bell, GIS is pointed 0.6% higher.
Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Alcoa (
), Joe's Jeans (
), Synergetics USA (
), and EXFO Inc. (
). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The central bank will take the spotlight today, with the release
of the FOMC's latest meeting minutes on tap. The economic agenda is
relatively light on Wednesday, with the MBA mortgage index slated
for release. Meanwhile, Thursday heats up with the August trade
balance, the holiday-delayed crude inventories report, and the
weekly report on initial jobless claims. Friday winds down with
September retail sales data, the Reuters/UMich consumer sentiment
index, business inventories, and import/export prices.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (
) saw 829,353 call contracts traded on Monday, compared to 519,073
put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived
at 0.63, while the 21-day moving average was 0.72.
Asian markets ended broadly higher today, with traders taking
their cues from Wall Street's big Monday rally. Banking stocks
paced the advancing issues in China, after the country's sovereign
wealth fund disclosed sizable share purchases in both Industrial
& Commercial Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China.
Meanwhile, Seoul-listed retailers were boosted by relatively tame
inflation data, which could enable Bank of Korea policymakers to
stand pat on rates when they meet later this week. By the close,
Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 2.4%, Japan's Nikkei rose roughly 2%,
South Korea's Kospi climbed 1.6%, and China's Shanghai Composite
tacked on 0.2%.
On the other hand, benchmark European indexes are wallowing
south of breakeven at midday. Anxiety is running high as Slovakia
prepares to vote on the proposed expansion of the European
Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), as the country is the last
euro-zone member to weigh in on the matter. Additionally, next
week's planned meeting of European Union leaders has been postponed
until Oct. 23, with President Herman Van Rompuy citing the need for
more time "to finalize our comprehensive strategy on the euro area
sovereign debt crisis." Against this uneasy backdrop, London's FTSE
100 is down 0.7%, the French CAC 40 is off 0.5%, and the German DAX
has shed 0.7%.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is trading modestly higher this morning, with the
U.S. dollar index up 0.4% at last look. Elsewhere, crude futures
have pulled back, with the front-month contract down 63 cents, or
0.7%, to hover just south of $85 per barrel. Likewise, gold futures
are also in the red, with the malleable metal last seen $6.40, or
0.4%, lower at $1,664.40 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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