Bernanke, Home Sales Bring the Bulls Back to the Street
After backpedaling 1.1% last week, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) are pointed higher this morning. Wall Street is awaiting word from Big Ben Bernanke, with the Federal Reserve Chairman scheduled to deliver an early morning speech at the National Association for Business Economists 2012 Policy Conference ahead of the bell. The day's economic docket also features pending home sales, following with last week's mob of housing reports. However, promising data out of Germany that showed a better-than-expected rise in business confidence has sparked a bullish spirit. Against this backdrop, all three major market indexes are set to tack on gains.
Citing higher production costs, Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. (CALM - 41.95) reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $26.1 million, or $1.09 per share, a 22% year-over-year drop from $33.6 million, or $1.40 per share. Sales for the egg producer edged up 11% to arrive at $303.7 million. The bottom-line results bested analysts' expectations for a per-share profit of $1.02. Shares of CALM are off 1.8% in pre-market trading.
The pending home sales index kicks things off today, while Tuesday features the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, as well as the Conference Board's latest consumer confidence report. On Wednesday, durable goods data and the regularly scheduled crude inventories report will hit the Street. Thursday's round-up will include weekly jobless claims and the final report on fourth-quarter GDP. The week wraps up on Friday with personal income and spending data, the Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI), and the final March reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange ( CBOE ) saw 954,906 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to 589,943 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.62, while the 21-day moving average was 0.62.
Stocks in Asia ended mixed today, as traders seemed unwilling to buy equities in the absence of a major positive catalyst. A poorly received earnings report from China Construction Bank prompted weakness in financials, after the company warned of a difficult operating environment for the fiscal year ahead. Meanwhile, trading in energy stocks was somewhat hectic. Sinopec gained ground in Hong Kong following its quarterly earnings release, but oil refiners were among the top laggards in Seoul amid lingering macroeconomic uncertainty. By the close, Japan's Nikkei added 0.07%, China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.05%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched fractionally higher, and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.4%.
The major European benchmarks are barely north of breakeven at midday, with the results of a weekend election in Spain sparking unrest. The People's Party was unable to win a majority vote in Andalucia, which could create snags as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attempts to push through unpopular austerity measures. However, economic data out of Berlin has garnered a warm reception, as the Ifo business sentiment index improved to a stronger-than-forecast 109.8 in March. At last look, the French CAC 40 is up 0.04%, London's FTSE 100 has advanced 0.5%, and the German DAX has tacked on 0.6%.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar is on the rebound this morning, with the greenback up 0.2% at $79.48. Conversely, crude oil is pointed south, with the front-month contract down 0.3% at $106.60 per barrel. Elsewhere, gold futures are 0.1% lower at $1,661 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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