Greek Debt Swap, Payrolls Have the Street Divided
Futures are mixed heading into today's session, as traders continue to digest a week's worth of roller-coaster market movement . Ahead of today's nonfarm payrolls report, economists are predicting growth of 225,000, with the unemployment rate expected to hold steady at 8.3%. Wall Street is also chewing on the results of Greek's debt swap . Although healthy participation among private creditors prevented the risk of disorderly default for the fiscally strapped euro-zone nation, the percentage fell short of the 90% targeted rate. The country may now force its hand through the use of Collective Action Clauses ( CAC ) on the remaining bondholders, which could trigger the exercise of credit default swaps. With focus stretched to all corners of the globe, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is up 17 points, while the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) is sitting on an 0.8% gain.
In earnings news, Aeropostale (ARO - 18.95) banked a fourth-quarter profit of $26.1 million, or 32 cents per share, down 69% from $83.8 million, or 95 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, earnings arrived at 44 cents per share. Meanwhile, net sales fell by 3.7% to $808.4 million, pressured by a 9% drop in same-store sales. However, the results still surpassed analysts' expectations for an adjusted profit of 38 cents per share on sales of $804.6 million. Looking ahead, the retailer is forecasting its fiscal first-quarter earnings to range between 8 cents and 10 cents per share, while Wall Street is predicting a profit of 12 cents per share. ARO is trading 1.5% higher ahead of the bell.
Zumiez, Inc. (ZUMZ - 32.32) saw its fourth-quarter profit soar 25% to $18.7 million, or 60 cents per share, from last year's profit of $15 million, or 49 cents per share. Same-store sales saw a 9.7% improvement, while overall revenue jumped 18% to $183.9 million. The results arrived above analysts' expectations for earnings of 59 cents per share on $183 million in sales. For the first quarter, ZUMZ is calling for earnings to land between 6 cents and 8 cents per share on net sales ranging from $123 million to $125 million, compared to Wall Street's forecast of 9 cents per share on $122.3 million in sales. Additionally, the Washington-based teen retailer plans to add 50 new stores in 2012, including 10 to its Canadian network.
Citing lower demand for its wireless products, Texas Instruments (TXN - 32.60) reduced its first-quarter earnings forecast to a range between 15 cents and 19 cents per share, with revenue now expected to arrive at $2.99 billion to $3.11 billion. Previously, the chip giant had predicted a profit of 16 cents to 24 cents per share on $3.02 billion to $3.28 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, the average analyst estimate is calling for a profit of 31 cents per share on $3.16 billion in revenue. Ahead of the bell, TXN has been hit with price-target cuts from Canaccord Genuity and Citigroup, but Macquarie diverged from the pack by raising its price target to $35.30 -- a 30-cent hike. TXN is set to drop 1.4% right out of the gate.
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Ann ( ANN ), BioScrip ( BIOS ), Citi Trends ( CTRN ), and Novavax ( NVAX ). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.
The week wraps up on a busy note, with the delayed release of the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report for February, as well as the latest unemployment rate, the trade deficit, and wholesale inventories.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,075,143 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 668,695 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.62, while the 21-day moving average was 0.64.
Asian markets ended higher today, as traders looked forward to a positive outcome from Greece's debt swap. A tame inflation report out of China also supported stocks, after data showed consumer prices rising by a relatively modest 3.2% in February. Among the day's notable movers was wireless heavyweight China Mobile, with the stock rallying in Hong Kong after Goldman Sachs deemed it worthy of a "buy" rating. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, a softer yen gave exporters a boost. By the close, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.7%, South Korea's Kospi and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.9% apiece, and China's Shanghai Composite advanced 0.8%.
Meanwhile, European equities are wobbling around the breakeven line at midday, as the other shoe has yet to drop in Athens. The government confirmed that creditors holding 83.5% of its privately held bonds participated in a voluntary restructuring, but Greece may still activate CACs to bring that figure up to 95.7%. If so, it could potentially trigger a credit event, with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association slated to make a ruling on the matter later today. At last look, London's FTSE 100 is down 0.1%, the French CAC 40 has edged up 0.1%, and the German DAX has tacked on 0.3%.
Currencies and Commodities
The U.S. dollar index is 0.4% higher at $79.44. Crude oil is up as well, with the front-month contract looking at a 0.3% bump to trade at $106.86 per barrel. Gold futures are also on track to extend recent gains , with the malleable metal last seen 0.1% north of breakeven at $1,700.90 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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