Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is set to testify before the
Senate Banking Committee later on Thursday to confirm her thoughts
on the nation's economic outlook and monetary policy.
The appearance is widely anticipated as Yellen's testimony was
postponed on February 13 due to a snowstorm. The unusual two week
gap between her testimony to the House and today's testimony to the
Senate have put Yellen in an interesting position as weaker than
expected economic data has piled up since she first spoke.
Most are expecting her to continue with her predecessor Ben
Bernanke's tapering plan despite the weakening economic indicators.
The testimony will also provide some insight into Yellen's
intentions for rate guidance. The bank may start to consider
increasing its benchmark rate as the unemployment rate falls closer
to its 6.5 percent goal.
In other news around the markets:
After months of protests, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
may be ejected from office, but not at the hands of the opposition.
Instead, Thailand's anti-corruption agency has stepped in and
called Yingluck to appear at a hearing which will charge her with
negligence for her part in overseeing a rice purchase program.
Reuters reported that US Attorney Preet Bharara has subpoenaed the
bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, among others, in an attempt to gain
information on how they dealt with recent cyber attacks. Mt.
Gox has been shut down since Tuesday, leaving bitcoin traders with
no way to recover their funds. Analysts are expecting Chinese
factory activity to have fallen to an eight month low in February,
which would indicate that the nation's slowdown is continuing. The
nation's manufacturing PMI is forecast to have fallen to 50.1, down
from 50.5 in January. Problems in Ukraine were magnified on
Thursday after dozens of armed men stormed the Crimean parliament.
Crimea, located on Ukraine's Black Sea coast, became the epicenter
for conflict shortly following the ousting of Ukraine's president.
Pro-Russian and pro-Western forces are at odds there as the
region's large ethnic Russian population call for succession.
Asian markets were mixed ahead of Yellen's testimony, with a
distinct lack of economic data to trade on. The Japanese NIKKEI
lost 0.32 percent and the Shenzhen composite was down 1.42 percent.
However the Hang Seng index rose 1.74 percent and the Shanghai
composite was up 0.30 percent.
European markets got off to a rocky start on Thursday, the UK's
FTSE was down 0.11 percent and the eurozone's STOXX 600 lost 0.09
percent. The German DAX fell 0.27 percent and the Spanish IBEX lost
Energy futures slipped on weakening demand, Brent futures lost
0.25 percent and WTI futures were down 0.10 percent. Precious
metals were also lower with gold down 0.20 percent and silver down
0.37 percent. Industrial metals were mixed; copper fell 0.54
percent but tin was up 1.18 percent.
Emerging market currencies were under pressure as the Ukrainian
hryvnia tumbled. The dollar rose to 10.15 hryvnia as well as rising
against a basket of other currencies as investors flocked to the
greenback for security. The dollar gained 0.26 percent against the
euro and 0.22 percent against the pound.
Notable earnings released on Wednesday included:
J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:
) reported a fourth quarter loss of $0.68 per share on revenue of
$3.78 billion, compared to last year's loss of $1.95 per share on
revenue of $3.88 billion. Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA (NYSE:
) reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.46 on revenue of $11.60
billion, compared to last year's EPS of $1.12 on revenue of $10.29
billion. Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:
) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.18 on revenue of $1.58 billion,
compared to last year's loss of $0.32 per share on revenue of $1.66
billion. Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:
) reported third quarter EPS of $0.86 on revenue of $2.00 billion,
compared to last year's loss of $0.18 per share on revenue of $2.22
billion. Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ:
) reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.02 on revenue of $2.23 billion,
compared to last year's EPS of $1.01 on revenue of $2.25 billion.
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
Transocean Ltd (NYSE:
) rose 3.09 percent in premarket trade after losing 0.94 percent on
Wednesday. PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE:
) gained 1.18 percent in premarket trade after rising 8.09 percent
over the past five days. Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:
) rose 0.19 percent in premarket trade after gaining 3.58 percent
over the past five days. Verizon Communications (NYSE:
) lost 0.45 percent in premarket trade after falling 0.39 percent
over the past five days.
Notable earnings releases expected on Thursday include:
Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.01 on revenue of
$14.66 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $1.55 on revenue of
$16.71 billion. Salesforce.com Inc (NYSE:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.06 on revenue of
$1.13 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.13 on revenue of
$834.68 million. Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.16 on revenue of
$2.47 billion. Southeby's (NYSE:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.40 on revenue of
$351.58 million, compared to last year's EPS of $0.96 on revenue of
Thursday's economic calendar will be overshadowed by Janet
Yellen's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee at 10:00 am EST.
Investors will also be watching for British consumer confidence
data, US durable goods orders, and eurozone business climate and
consumer confidence data.
For a recap of Wednesday's market action, click .
Tune into Benzinga's pre-market info show with Dennis Dick and
(c) 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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