Opening View: DJIA Futures Up as China Loosens Policy Reins

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Despite Standard & Poor's late-Tuesday downgrade of a number of global banks, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures are headed higher this morning, looking to extend gains to a third straight session. Wall Street seems to have its eye on a slew of jobs data, with the ADP report following in the footsteps of yesterday's promising consumer confidence report .

Investors are also optimistic on the international front, after China's central bank attempted to promote economic growth by easing the reserve requirement ratio of banks, a move not made in the past three years. Not to be outdone, euro-zone officials remain in clean-up mode, approving the next round of aid to struggling Greece. Furthermore, a plan by global central banks to strengthen dollar swap lines has also bolstered futures. Against this hopeful backdrop, futures on the DJIA are trading 93 points above fair value, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is looking at an 11-point jump.

In earnings news, Universal Technical Institute (UTI - 12.16) saw its fiscal fourth-quarter profit drop 18% to $5.95 million, or 24 cents per share, from $7.22 million, or 29 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, revenue slipped 6.6% to $111.4 million. The results fell below Wall Street's forecast for earnings of 29 cents per share on $111.5 million in sales. For the 2012 fiscal year, UTI expects its top line to experience a mid- to high-single-digit percentage-point decline, while analysts are looking for a 5% slide in revenue for the year. Shares of UTI are trading about 1.5% lower ahead of the bell.

OmniVision Technologies (OVTI - 11.19) reported a fiscal second-quarter profit of $21.1 million, or 35 cents per share, down from $28.9 million, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, earnings came in at 48 cents per share, compared to 58 cents per share in the previous year. Meanwhile, revenue fell 9% to $217.9 million. Analysts, on average, were expecting a slimmer profit of 32 cents per share on revenue of $214.6 million. Looking ahead, OVTI is expecting adjusted third-quarter earnings between 5 cents and 17 cents per share on revenue of $160 million to $180 million. Analysts, however, are forecasting a profit of 26 cents per share on revenue of $201.4 million. OVTI is facing a 4.5% drop right out of the gate this morning.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Aeropostale ( ARO ), American Eagle Outfitters ( AEO ), Coldwater Creek ( CWTR ), Finisar ( FNSR ), Fresh Market ( TFM ), Guess (GES), Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD), La Z Boy (LZB), Synopsys (SNPS), and United Natural Foods (UNFI). Keep your browser at for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Employment data starts to trickle in today, with the release of the Challenger, Gray & Christmas report on job cuts, and ADP's private payrolls number for November. Also on tap are the Chicago PMI, pending home sales, and the Fed's Beige Book. Thursday features the ISM manufacturing index, as well as construction spending data and the usual report on weekly jobless claims. The week wraps up with a bang on Friday, when the Labor Department unveils its monthly nonfarm payrolls report.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 795,324 call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to 497,444 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.63, while the 21-day moving average was 0.74.

Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended lower today, wrapping up a miserable month for global equities markets. Late Tuesday, euro-zone leaders reached an agreement regarding the proposed expansion of the region's bailout fund, and confirmed the forthcoming disbursement of another tranche of aid for troubled Greece. However, the bulls opted to hold their fire after Tuesday's advance, particularly after the newly struck agreement proved to be somewhat lacking in detail. Among individual equities, HSBC helped pace the decliners in Hong Kong after a downgrade from Standard & Poor's, while Samsung bucked the downtrend following a favorable court ruling in its patent battle with Apple. By the close, China's Shanghai Composite gave up 3.3%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.5%, and Japan's Nikkei and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5% apiece.

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar index is trading higher this morning, with the greenback up 0.2% ahead of the bell. Crude oil futures, on the other hand, may be on pace to end their three-session winning streak, with black gold down fractionally, trading just shy of the century mark. Gold futures are headed south, as well, dropping 0.1% at last check, to $1,716.60 per ounce.

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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