Stocks Pointed Higher Ahead of Payrolls, ISM Index


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U.S. stocks are on track to end the week on a positive note, with futures on all three major market indexes pointed north of breakeven. Following a batch of promising employment and manufacturing data released in the previous days, Wall Street is waiting with bated breath for the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report for January, slated for release at 8:30 a.m, although economists are expecting unemployment to remain unchanged. This morning's economic action will also include the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing report for the month prior, set to be unveiled at 10:00 a.m. Amid this deluge of data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is set to open 34 points higher, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is looking at a 3-point jump.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In earnings news, Wynn Resorts (WYNN - 120.78) reported its fourth-quarter results after last night's close. Thanks to a $31.2-million tax benefit, WYNN's profit jumped 67% to $190.5 million, or $1.52 per share, from last year's profit of $114.2 million, or 91 cents per share. Excluding items, earnings arrived at $1.55 per share. Revenue enjoyed an 8.6% bump to $1.34 billion. The global casino concern's bottom-line results bested analysts' expectations for earnings of $1.29 per share, but fell just shy of the $1.36 billion in sales forecast by Wall Street. WYNN is down nearly 3% in pre-market trading.

Elsewhere, Acme Packet (APKT - 30.89) banked a fourth-quarter profit of $8.7 million, or 12 cents per share, down from $14.5 million, or 25 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, earnings came in at 26 cents per share, remaining flat with the previous year. Meanwhile, revenue rose 18.2% to $83 million. The results disappointed analysts, who were expecting a profit of 28 cents per share on sales of $85.2 million. Looking ahead, the company is predicting an adjusted fiscal-year profit of 96 cents to $1.00 per share, more cautious than Wall Street's forecast for earnings of $1.23 per share. APKT is looking at a 14% drop right out of the gate.

Finally, Weyerhaeuser Company (WY - 20.14) reported a fourth-quarter profit of $65 million, or 12 cents per share, a 62% year-over-year drop from $171 million, or 32 cents per share. Excluding items, profit arrived at 14 cents per share. Revenue also suffered, falling 2.9% to $1.62 billion. The timber titan's results came in better than expected, however, with analysts calling for adjusted earnings of 6 cents per share on $1.59 billion in sales. WY is up 3% ahead of the bell.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Clorox ( CLX ), Tyson Foods ( TSN ), American Axle ( AXL ), Estee Lauder ( EL ), and Simon Property Group ( SPG ). Keep your browser at for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The Labor Department's marquee report on nonfarm payrolls will dominate headlines today, and traders will also digest the latest data on factory orders and the ISM's services index.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,226,444 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 767,293 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.63, while the 21-day moving average was 0.61.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Asian markets ended mixed today, as the mood turned cautious ahead of this morning's U.S. employment data. Sony bucked the downtrend in Japan, with the tech giant enjoying a healthy post-earnings jump -- despite confessing to a $2.1-billion loss in the recently concluded quarter. Elsewhere, property stocks and financials helped lead Shanghai stocks to a positive finish, while mining issues rallied on the heels of gold's freshly tagged 11-week high. By the close, South Korea's Kospi slid 0.6%, Japan's Nikkei shed 0.5%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng crept 0.08% higher, and China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.8%.

Meanwhile, European equities are on the upswing at midday. Traders are cheering a positive reading on factory activity, as the composite euro-zone purchasing managers index (PMI) jumped to 50.4 in January from December's reading of 48.3. The current PMI points to expansion in regional manufacturing activity, as opposed to contraction. However, the gains have been relatively modest, as Greece has yet to confirm a debt restructuring deal with its private creditors. At last look, the German DAX is up 0.1%, the French CAC 40 has climbed 0.2%, and London's FTSE 100 is 0.4% higher.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar index is headed south this morning, with the greenback down 0.1% at $78.95. Crude oil, meanwhile, is hoping to pare some of the losses incurred on its six-session stay in the red , with the front-month contract up 0.1% to trade at $96.47 per barrel. Finally, gold futures are trading fractionally higher ahead of the bell, with the malleable metal last seen at $1,760.00 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

Due to technical issues, the Unusual Put and Call Activity charts are unavailable today. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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This article appears in: Investing Options
Referenced Stocks: AXL , CLX , EL , SPG , TSN

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