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Futures Falter Amid Greek Anxiety; Consumer Sentiment On Deck

By: Schaeffer's Investment Research
Posted: 2/10/2012 8:25:00 AM
Referenced Stocks: ACI;ALU;EU;IMF;NYX

Despite Thursday's hard-fought session win , stock futures are headed south this morning, after a wrench was thrown into the Greek debt relief package late last night. After Greek officials finally came to a deal on austerity measures laid out by the European Union ( EU ), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund ( IMF ), euro-zone finance ministers suggested that the cash-strapped nation should adopt deeper cuts before a bailout is approved. Tensions continue to mount as the deadline for financial rescue arrives next week -- Feb. 15, to be exact. On the domestic front, Wall Street will sift through the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index and December trade data. Ahead of the bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) are poised to pull back from their recent multi-year highs .

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In earnings news, LinkedIn (LNKD - 76.39) banked a fourth-quarter profit of $6.9 million, or 6 cents per share, up from its year-ago earnings of $5.3 million, or 3 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, LNKD earned 12 cents per share, while revenue more than doubled to $167.7 million. The results comfortably surpassed Wall Street's forecast for a profit of 7 cents per share on $160 million in revenue. Looking ahead, LNKD anticipates full-year revenue of $840 million to $860 million, crushing the average analyst estimate of $828 million. At last check, LNKD is readying for an 8.7% boost out of the gate.

Expedia (EXPE - 34.16) reported a fourth-quarter profit of $70.3 million, or 51 cents per share, down 1.4% from $71.3 million, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, earnings remained flat at 58 cents per share. Meanwhile, overall sales rose by 6.7% to $787.1 million. Specifically, worldwide hotel revenue climbed by 12%, whereas global air sales fell by 19%. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 53 cents per share on revenue of $812.4 million. EXPE is off 3.8% in pre-market action.

Finally, Activison Blizzard (ATVI - 12.66) swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $99 million, or 8 cents per share, bouncing back from last year's loss of $233 million, or 20 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, ATVI's profit arrived at 62 cents per share, while revenue fell 6% to $2.41 billion. The video game publisher's results topped expectations, as Wall Street was calling for adjusted earnings of 56 cents per share on $2.2 billion in revenue. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based business is predicting current-quarter earnings of 3 cents per share on $525 million in sales, while analysts are looking for earnings of 14 cents per share on $771 million in sales. Ahead of the open, ATVI is up 1.1%.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Alcatel-Lucent ( ALU ), Arch Coal ( ACI ), NYSE Euronext ( NYX ), Treehouse Foods (THS), FLIR Systems (FLIR), and PPL Corp. (PPL). Keep your browser at for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The week wraps up with the December trade balance, January's Treasury budget, and the aforementioned Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index. Furthermore, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will once again step up to the podium, with the central banker slated to speak at the NAHB International Builders Show.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,605,949 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 942,751 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.59, while the 21-day moving average was 0.58.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended mostly lower today, thanks to continued uncertainty out of Europe. After Thursday's meeting in Brussels, euro-zone finance ministers declined to approve an aid package for Greece until additional criteria are met, which prompted weakness among banking names. Meanwhile, traders were also rattled by a wider-than-forecast trade surplus for China, though analysts noted that January's data was likely skewed by the Lunar New Year holiday. By the close, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and South Korea's Kospi lost a little more than 1% apiece, while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.6%, and China's Shanghai Composite edged up 0.1%.

The major European indexes are modestly lower at midday, as Greece's newly struck austerity accord failed to win the immediate approval of euro-zone officials. Finance ministers from the 17-nation bloc are looking for Athens to find an additional 325 million euros in spending cuts, and parliamentary ratification of the package is another prerequisite. Eurogroup chair Jean-Claude Juncker also warned that Greece had better be serious about putting its austerity plans into practice, stating, "In short, no disbursement before implementation." At last check, the German DAX is down 1.7%, the French CAC 40 is off 1.3%, and London's FTSE 100 is 0.8% lower.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The greenback is pointed higher this morning, with the U.S. dollar index up 0.6%. Crude oil, meanwhile, is backing away from yesterday's gain , with the front-month contract last seen 1.4% lower at $98.44 per barrel. Similarly, gold futures are pointed lower, with the malleable metal down 1.4% to trade at $1,717.70 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

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Unusual options activity - puts

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