Technically, the DJIA breached the 12,000 level for the first time since Feb. 3 yesterday, with the blue chip barometer recovering late in the session. The Dow remains below its 10-day and 20-day moving averages, and resistance could materialize near the 12,150-12,200 region. Support remains near 12,000. The SPX, meanwhile, also confronted key support Thursday, rebounding off the 1,295-1,300 region. The broad-market index should find support in this area today, while resistance lies at the 1,315 level, which is home to the SPX's 20-day moving average. For the week, the SPX is sitting on a loss of 2.75%, while the Dow is down roughly 2.6%.
In equity news, the U.S. Air Force announced that it has awarded The Boeing Co. ( BA ) with a $30 billion contract to build 179 refueling tankers. The contract requires Boeing to deliver the first 18 jets by 2017. Boeing beat out European firm EADS ( EADSY ) for the contract. EADS has 10 days to appeal the decision.
In earnings news, American International Group ( AIG ) reported a fourth-quarter profit of $11.2 billion, which included gains of $17.6 billion from the sale of several businesses and the initial public offering of AIA Group. The company said that it lost $2.2 billion on an after-tax operating basis, down from a loss of $1.3 billion in the same quarter last year.
Elsewhere, Salesforce.com ( CRM ) announced fourth-quarter earnings of $10.9 million, or 8 cents a share, on revenue of $456.9 million. Excluding one-time items, Salesforce.com said earnings for the quarter were 31 cents per share. Analysts had predicted a profit of 27 cents a share on $452.1 million in revenue.
Finally, First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) said that its fourth-quarter net income rose 3.7% to $155.9 million, or $1.80 per share, as revenue slipped 4.8% to $609.8 million. Wall Street was looking for earnings of $1.77 per share on $646 million in revenue. For 2011, the company said it expects sales of $3.7 billion to $3.8 billion on earnings of $9.25 to $9.75 per share. The current consensus estimate for FSLR's fiscal 2011 earnings rests at $9.12 per share.
On the earnings front, J.C. Penney (JCP), Constellation Energy (CEP), Rowan Companies (RDC), and Tenet Healthcare (THC) are slated to release their quarterly earnings reports. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.
We round out the week today with a pair of key economic reports: the preliminary estimate on fourth-quarter gross domestic product ( GDP ), and February's consumer sentiment index from Reuters/University of Michigan.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,325,329 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 940,541 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.71, 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 much improved this morning, with nine of the 10 foreign indexes that we track in positive territory. The cumulative average return on the collective stands at a gain of 0.86%. Asian stocks headed broadly higher on Friday, with investors looking past Middle Eastern turmoil to hunt for bargains. Stabilizing crude prices also helped to bolster investor confidence in the region. The situation is the same in Europe, with regional markets heading higher in an attempt to close a volatile week on a positive note. However, the London Stock Exchange was halted this morning due to a technical error in the exchange's main U.K. SETS platform.
Currencies and Commodities
After tagging yet another two-year high above $100 per barrel, the April crude contract plunged Thursday afternoon following a mix of government interventions -- Saudi Arabia promised to make up for the lost production out of Libya -- and rumors -- scattered and unverified reports claimed that Muammar Qadhafi's had been shot. Prices have stabilized in premarket trading, with the April contract up 39 cents at $97.63 per barrel. Elsewhere, the U.S. dollar is headed higher for the first time in three days, with the U.S. Dollar Index up 0.16% at 77.18. The index's 2011 low rests at 76.88. Finally, with nerves calming a bit, gold appears to have lost its safe-haven appeal. In London, the malleable metal is off $14.10 at $1,401.70 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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