Technically, the DJIA staged a minor rally on Friday, but was capped by resistance at the 12,150 level - which is currently home to the blue chip barometer's 20-day moving average. What's more, the Dow's 10-day trendline is rolling over into the 12,200 area, and could increase overhead technical resistance. Support remains at the psychologically significant 12,000 level. As for the SPX, the broad-market index rebounded above its 20-day moving average on Friday, stopping just shy of the 1,320 level. The 1,325 area could be a sticking point for the SPX, with its 10-day trendline descending into the region. Finally, support should hold in the 1,295-1,300 area.
Mergers and acquisitions are garnering some attention this morning, with Nationwide Health Properties Inc. ( NHP ) agreeing to be acquired by Ventas Inc. ( VTR ) for $44.99 in stock per share, or roughly $7.4 billion. Terms of the deal call for Ventas to pay 0.7866 share for each share of Nationwide, valuing NHP at a 15% premium to its close at $38.96 on Friday. Once the deal is finalized, Ventas shareholders would own 65% of the combined company.
Also in M&A activity, Equinox Minerals Ltd. ( EQXMF ) announced plans to offer C$4.8 billion (US$4.92 billion) for Lundin Mining Corp. ( LUNMF ). Equinox said in a statement this morning that Lundin shareholders could choose between either C$8.10 cash or 1.2903 Equinox shares plus C$0.01. The deal values LUNMF at a 25% premium to Friday's close. Lundin has already agreed to a merger with Inmet Mining Corp. ( IEMMF ), but Equinox says that its offer is superior.
In earnings news, HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) said that its 2010 net profit rose to $13.16 billion from $5.83 billion last year. However, the results missed the consensus estimate for a net profit of $14.02 billion. HSBC also said that it will pay a fourth-quarter dividend of 12 cents per share, up from 10 cents per share a year earlier.
On the earnings front, A123 Systems (AONE), Edison (EIX), and Rosetta Stone (RST) are slated to release their quarterly earnings reports. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.
Economic data comes fast and furious this week. Today kicks off with December's pending home sales, personal spending and income for January, the Chicago purchasing managers index for February, and the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey for February. Tuesday morning brings us the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index, as well as auto sales data for February. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will begin a two-day tour of Capitol Hill with testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. The pace picks up on Wednesday, with the ADP payroll report for February, Bernanke's testimony before the House Finance Committee, the latest Beige Book from the Fed, and the regularly scheduled update on domestic oil supplies.
Key economic reports on Thursday include weekly jobless claims and the ISM's nonmanufacturing index for February. On Friday, all eyes will be on the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report for February, with a Dow Jones survey revealing expectations for an increase of 192,000 jobs. Later in the session, January's factory orders will hit the Street.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,287,299 call contracts traded on Friday, compared to 648,597 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.50, while the 21-day moving average held at 0.58.
**The volume data shown above is from the Nasdaq and NYSE exchanges only. It does not include regional volume activity, which means that other daily volume quotes you see may be higher.**
Overseas trading looks strong this morning, with eight of the 10 foreign indexes that we track in positive territory. The cumulative average return on the collective stands at a gain of 0.36%. Asian trading is leading the way this morning, with regional indexes rallying sharply following news that Beijing lowered its economic growth target for the next five years. The lowered outlook has alleviated some fears of rising inflation in China. European markets, meanwhile, are struggling to hold a positive bias this morning, with weak earnings from HSBC Holdings creating pressure in the banking sector.
Currencies and Commodities
With several key reports on tap this week, currency traders appear to have turned bearish on the U.S. dollar, with the U.S. Dollar Index falling 0.50% to 76.89 in premarket trading this morning. Commodities, however, are not capitalizing on the greenback's retreat. At last check, the April crude contract was up a mere penny at $97.89 per barrel in electronic trading. Elsewhere, gold futures have added only $2.70 to trade at $1,412 an ounce in London.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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