Markets

Opening View: Futures Down Ahead of Fed

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After Greece stealing the spotlight for the past several sessions, the Street's attention will return to the U.S. economy today. On the docket today is the latest policy decision from the Federal Reserve, followed by a press conference led by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed is expected to announce the decision to end its program of buying $600 billion of Treasury securities on June 30, and to leave its interest-rate policy unchanged. Meanwhile, traders and analysts are eagerly awaiting Bernanke's speech, which is slated for 2:15 p.m. Eastern, with many wondering how the chairman will spin the recent string of weak economic reports that have hit the Street. With anxiety high ahead of today's events, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) are trading over 39 points lower, while S&P 500 Index (SPX ) futures are down 3.8 points.

Adobe Systems (ADBE - 32.01) reported a fiscal second-quarter profit of $229.4 million, or 45 cents per share, up 54% from the period a year ago. Excluding items, ADBE said it earned 55 cents per share on revenue of $1 billion. Analysts, on average, were calling for an adjusted quarterly profit of 51 cents per share on sales of $996.1 million. Looking ahead, the software concern projected adjusted current-quarter earnings of 50 cents to 56 cents per share on revenue between $1 billion and $1.05 billion. The forecast encompassed the Street's predictions for a per-share profit of 54 cents on sales of $1.02 billion. However, it seems that investors are none too pleased with ADBE's report, with shares of the tech issue down 3.1% in pre-market trading.

Jabil Circuit (JBL - 18.85) said it earned $104.7 million, or 47 cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter -- almost doubling its year-ago profit of $52 million, or 24 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, JBL earned $129.1 million, or 58 cents per share, on sales of $4.2 billion. Analysts, on average, were looking for a slimmer profit of 57 cents per share on revenue of $4.15 billion.

Carmax Inc. (KMX - 30.52) drove up to the earnings confessional this morning, boasting first-quarter earnings of 55 cents per share on $2.68 billion in revenue. Both figures easily surpassed analysts' estimate for a profit of 47 cents per share on revenue of $2.53 billion. KMX said that its quarterly same-store sales increased 6%, with total wholesale unit sales jumping by 32%. "We are pleased to report another quarter of strong results," said CEO Tom Folliard, who explained that increased customer traffic helped the company weather recent economic and challenges, such as higher gas and vehicle prices. The Street seems equally pleased with the results, with KMX up 7.8% ahead of the open.

AstraZeneca plc (AZN - 49.17) announced today that it will be selling its Astra Tech division to Dentsply International Inc. for $1.8 billion. "Following a comprehensive strategic review, we believe this transaction represents an excellent outcome for AstraZeneca shareholders. The high degree of interest and the competitive nature of this process is evidence of the value that the employees of Astra Tech have built in the marketplace," explained AZN's CEO David Brennan. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2011.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY ), CarMax ( KMX ), FedEx ( FDX ), Paychex ( PAYX ), Red Hat ( RHT ), and Steelcase (SCS). Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Today marks the regularly scheduled update on domestic petroleum supplies, but all eyes will likely be on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) when it issues its latest decision on monetary policy at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. Thursday's calendar includes initial and continuing jobless claims, as well as new home sales for May. The week wraps up with a bang, as Friday promises the latest revision to first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) and durable goods orders for May.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,135,508 call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to 679,589 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio docked at 0.60, while the 21-day moving average was perched at 0.75.

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Overseas Trading

Asian markets ended higher today, bolstered by enthusiasm over the positive outcome of a Greek confidence vote. Banking stocks helped blaze the path higher across the region, while energy issues and mining stocks also advanced. However, gains were relatively modest in China and Hong Kong, where traders are bracing for additional policy-tightening moves. By the close, Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.8%, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8%, China's Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.04%.

Meanwhile, European shares are wobbling around breakeven at midday. The Greek government survived a crucial confidence vote, which sets the stage for legislators to pass additional austerity measures and secure a much-needed bailout package. Despite this positive development, traders are erring on the side of caution ahead of a highly anticipated statement from the U.S. Fed. At last check, the German DAX is up 0.1%, the French CAC 40 is off 0.2%, and London's FTSE 100 0.1% lower.

Currencies and Commodities

The dollar has edged slightly higher this morning, adding 0.3 point, or 0.4%. The greenback has enjoyed a nice rally during the past few sessions, as anxiety over the situation in Greece weighed negatively on the euro. However, with Tuesday's confidence vote now in the rearview mirror, the euro could soon rebound. Meanwhile, after a wishy-washy session on Tuesday, crude futures are once again in the red, shedding 0.6 point, or 0.6%, at last check. Gold has also backpedaled in pre-market trading, with the precious metal currently down 3.1 points, or 0.2%.

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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