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WJR March 2011 Reports


March 31, 2011

Stock prices may well go into wait-and-see mode in front of tomorrow’s Monthly Unemployment Report. However, it’s not as if we’ll be starved for economic data today.

Early this morning, the March Monster Employment Report came out. It’s a survey of the level of online recruiting activity, and the news is good. The Monster Index rose 7 points to 136 as employers are evidently looking for more workers, or at least the ones who can turn on a computer.

In about 8 minutes from now, the weekly jobless claims are expected to drop ever-so-slightly from last week’s 382,000. Then, at 9:45, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, a survey of business activity in the Chicago area is expected to read 70. Anything over 50 reflects economic expansion.

Just when we’ve gone a couple of days without an investment related scandal, Berkshire Hathaway shares may be under some pressure after the resignation of David Sokol, one of their executives. Although Sokol and Berkshire claim that he did nothing wrong, Sokol reportedly bought and sold shares of Lubrizol, at approximately the same time he suggested that Berkshire buy the firm. Perhaps nothing illegal here, but it’s becoming apparent that Berkshire executives are not under the same trading restrictions as your average money manager or for that matter, employees of any big public accounting firm.

Mainland China was lower by one percent, other overseas markets are flat to a little lower, but not by much. Our futures are going absolutely nowhere fast. At this point, the S&P, Dow and NASDAQ futures are all within a point or so of fair value.

March 30, 2011

It looks like yesterday afternoon’s rally will continue into at least the early going today.

In the pharmaceutical space, where stock prices appear to be awakening from a long slumber, Canadian company Valeant is looking to buy Cephalon, bidding 73 dollars per share, which is almost 30% above the recent 30 day price average for Cephalon shares. That’s a 5.7billion dollar proposition.

News on corporate layoffs from the outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas may not be so good for outplacement firms like Challenger, but sounds pretty good for the economy. March layoff announcement fell to about 41,500 from 50,000 in February and 67,500 from a year ago. The first quarter total layoff announcements were the lowest since 1995. Of course, we’ll get the monthly Employment Report from the Labor Department on Friday.

Meantime, the March ADP Employment Report was announced less than 5minutes ago, reporting 201,000 new private sector jobs, that was a little lower than the 225,000 estimate, but not bad. Manufacturing employment was up 37,000. That’s the 6thmonthly increase in a row.

Ford Motor shares looking more than one percent higher pre-market after last night’s headliune that the UAW is okay with a two tiered wage scale if it means more dues-paying UAW members will have jobs.

Mainland China was a little lower overnight, but most other overseas markets are higher, and right on cue, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up 8½ points, the Dow futures are up 64, and the NASDAQ futures are about 16 points above fair value.

March 29, 2011

T minus 3 and counting down to the end of the calendar quarter, and surprise, surprise – here come the earnings warnings. This morning Halliburton warned that the impact of the North African and other Mideast conflicts will cause some damage to the first quarter profit and loss statement. 

Shares Marriott International lost 7 percent yesterday on news of weakness in its North American business. Marriott was also downgraded by Goldman Sachs.

This morning, we’re looking forward to the 10 o’clock release of the Conference Board’s March Consumer Confidence Report. Last month, the index hit a 3 year high of 70.4. This is survey of 3000 households nationwide, and as such, it often moves inversely with gasoline prices. Given the recent spike in gasoline prices, expect a big drop from that 70.4 to about the 64 level.

However, there’s some hope on the horizon for those of us who drive. Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering a boost of 20 to 30 percent in its oil production. And here you thought that stuff was running out.

Overseas markets aren’t moving much, but most moved a little lower overnight. Our futures have improved a bit, but are still relatively sleepy. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down a fraction, the Dow futures are up 8, but the NASDAQ futures are about a half-point below fair value.

March 28, 2011

We’re coming off the best week for domestic stocks since the middle of last summer, and we’re seeing more buyers than sellers again his morning. Not to be a wet blanket, but this is a week when a lot of things could go wrong.

We now have four trading days left in the quarter. We know about supply disruptions because of the Japanese situation. We’re learning more about radiation leakage. Moreover, profit margins at many companies may be getting squeezed by higher oil and commodity costs. Suffice it to say that if all that is going to add up to first quarter earnings that miss estimates, we’ll probably start hearing the warnings this week.

We’ll also get the monthly Unemployment Report on Friday and some Consumer Confidence and PMI data in between. In about ten minutes, we’re expected to hear that personal income rose four-tenths of a percent in February, and spending rose six-tenths of a percent.

European automakers are lower by 1½ to 3 percent this morning and reports of production snags due to earthquake-related supply shortages. Share of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia are stronger on an upgrade from Goldman Sachs.

There’s no significant movement in major markets overseas. We’re still looking to start the trading day a bit higher, although the futures have been losing ground over the past half-hour. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by almost 2 points, the Dow futures are up 19, and the NASDAQ futures are about 5½ points above fair value.

March 24, 2011

A day ago, there was a lot of hand-wringing among stock traders on the subject of Portugal. It was thought that if their legislature refused to approve an austerity program, the prime minister would resign, an EU bailout would be required, the euro would fall and stocks prices would slump. Well, all that came to pass late yesterday – expect for the stock price part. European stocks have turned higher this morning. Heck, even the euro has turned higher now and the Portuguese market is up one percent, and our futures are pointing toward a continuation of yesterday’s rally.

We do have a couple of economic reports on the way that could temper the enthusiasm a touch. At 8:30 we’ll find out about the production of Durable Goods in February. This is a number that has been increasing at a declining rate since last April, even though the January number was puffed up due to civilian aircraft orders. That January increase of 2.7% is expected to have cooled to February an overall increase of only 1.5%.

Also at 8:30, the weekly Jobless Claims Report is expected to hold at last week’s level of 385,000.

Best Buy shares are indicated about 4 to 5 percent higher this morning, as they reported $1.98 of operating earnings for the quarter gone by. That beat estimates by 13 cents on revenue that was just an eyelash short of expectations.

Asia was mixed overnight, but Europe is higher and absent some really ugly numbers at 8:30, we’ll head higher at the open. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by almost 9 points, the Dow futures are up 74 points, and the NASDAQ futures are about 19 points above fair value.

March 23, 2011

 
Reports of radioactive iodine in Japanese tap water sent a three-day Japanese stock rally up in smoke overnight. Although the level of contamination is not deemed dangerous to adults, it is higher than permissible for children. It’s also evidently poisonous to stock prices, which ended lower by over 1½ percent. Of course that’s a lot better than what happened in Egypt.

In Cairo, they opened the stock market for trading for the first time since January 27th. They had hoped to trade for four hours. But shortly after the open, circuit breakers kicked in to close trading when Egyptian stocks sank 10%. Some predict an eventual 20 or 30% decline in values until the political situation stabilizes.

On this side of either big ocean, we’ll get the February New Home Sales Report at 10 o’clock. Dropping prices for existing homes have been putting pressure on new home sales and prices for the past couple of years now and January was no exception, with sales dropping 12.6% and prices down almost 2 percent. Expect a slight recovery in February to the annualized rate of 290,000 units. 

In case you’re looking for some excitement at lunchtime, Ben Bernanke will speak in San Diego at noon. The topic will be “Community Banking.” Should be a real barn-burner 

Jabil Circuit beat estimates last night and raised their earnings guidance.

China gained over one percent overnight. Our futures were looking good until about an hour ago, but at this point, we’re looking for a very slightly weaker open. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 2 points, the Dow futures are down 9 points, and the NASDAQ futures are about 6 points below fair value.

March 22, 2011

The most important economic data points of the week will come on Thursday and Friday.

This morning, about all we have is the weekly International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Retail Sales report. That measures general merchandise sales, and as such really only represents about 10% of overall retail sales. Important or not, the report reflected a 3 percent increase from the comparable week a year ago, but a one-tenth of a percent decrease from last week.

In earnings news, Walgreen reported quarterly sales up about 10 percent with earnings up 17 percent from a year ago. Still, early indications have the stock a little lower on guidance. Dollar General could be the star of the morning, earning 65 cents versus the expected 59 cents. Dollar General stock is indicated about 7 percent higher so far.

Carnival, Adobe and Jabil Circuit will also report earnings today.

Two Federal Reserve Bank President are out on the rubber chicken circuit, but no major announcements are expected.

Asian markets are higher with Japan in a starring role, up almost 4½ percent. European markets are much more of a mixed picture, as are our futures. In fact, there’s a whole lot of nothin’ going on.

At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down a point, the Dow futures are down about a point, but the NASDAQ futures are about 4 points below fair value.

March 21, 2011

It looks like we’ll get off to a bit of a flying start this morning as some of those who panicked out of stocks after the Japanese tsunami are riding a wave of buying this morning.

If you make some money in the market today, you may want to save it to pay for higher wireless bills in the future. AT&T has struck a deal to acquire T-Mobile for a combination of 39 billion dollars of cash and stock. That quashes the rumors that Sprint/Nextel was about to bid for T-Mobile. It also appears to leave Sprint and Metro-PCS as the odd-men out in the U.S. wireless industry, as the combined AT&T/T-Mobile would leapfrog current leader Verizon. We’ll see if this deal gets regulatory approval. You may recall that a generation ago, the government broke up AT&T’s monopoly. We’ll see if the current government is comfortable with what might effectively be a duopoly in wireless service.

At 10 o’clock the February Existing Home sales Report is expected to cool off to an annualized rate of 5.15 million units from January’s surprisingly strong 5.36 million (figures corrected from this morning's report.)

Tiffany shares may rise today for a good reason. They reported $1.41 in quarterly profit versus the expected $1.10. And Citigroup shares will soon rise for a not-so-great reason. They just announced a 1 for 10 reverse split, going from 29 billion shares outstanding to 2.9 billion. Citi will also pay a penny per share dividend.

A number of overseas markets are closed today, but outside of a mixed performance in China, most overseas markets that are trading are trading higher.

Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up almost 16 points, the Dow futures are now up 125, and the NASDAQ futures are about 30 points above fair value.

March 18, 2011

A market yearning for stability has a couple of big factors moving in the right direction this morning.

One of the most intriguing and unsettling trades of the past week has been the dramatic rise of the yen against other currencies. The reasons for that rise are varied, but may well be more speculation than anything else. That financial speculation is not helping anyone except traders on the right side of the trade. So, last night, the G7 countries agreed on a coordinated intervention to buy dollars and sell yen. It’s an emergency measure and thus far this morning, markets worldwide are voting their support.

Of course, another big help has been an apparent “stabilization” of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Today’s economic calendar is about as empty as can be today, on the heels of a bunch of encouraging reports yesterday.

On the earnings front, Nike shares are looking to open about 6 percent lower this morning after missing the $1.12 earnings estimate by 4 cents yesterday. Disney stock also looking a little lower after a report yesterday that they are temporarily closing their store operations in Japan.

Quest Diagnostics will pay an 8% premium to buy Celera for 8 dollars per share. 

Overseas, outside of Russia, which is only slightly lower, stocks are a wave of green numbers.

Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up about 10 points, the Dow futures are now up 81, and the NASDAQ futures are about 17 points above fair value.

March 17, 2011 - Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Ron's at the Party.  See you tomorrow.................

March 16, 2011

Stocks in Tokyo sank 11 percent yesterday, but recovered half of that loss today, as traders speculated that the sell-off may have been overdone. They may be right, if the nuclear situation stabilizes and improves. However, we really don’t have assurance of that at this point and the rest of the world is taking a “show me” stance so far, although the selling panic appears to have abated.

Toyota did announce that their Japanese plants will remain shut for an additional week, until March 22nd. Tough to run a manufacturing plane unless you know electric power is going to be there.

Tomorrow is the big economic report day here in the U.S. However, in about 3 minutes we’ll get a couple of fairly significant numbers. The February Housing Starts report is expected to cool a bit from a surprisingly good January number. Expect an annualized run rate of 560,000 new homes. We’ll also get the February Producer Price Index. Expect seven-tenths on the headline and two-tenths excluding food and energy. That would be a little cooler than the January increase, but still on the border of being uncomfortably high, if you’re on the lookout for rising costs.

Asian markets rose overnight, led by Japan. However, Europe is a mixed picture and we’re looking at a fairly neutral open for stock prices. Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up almost a point, the Dow futures are now up 16, but the NASDAQ futures are about 5 points below fair value.

March 15, 2011

 
Beware the Ides of March.

The last time we stared into the unknown was just over two years ago, when investors really didn’t know the extent of the fallout from the financial crisis. Markets around the world are again staring into the abyss this morning, as we await updates on the extent of nuclear fallout in Japan.

As Japanese authorities continue to pour more seawater into reactors and more yen into the financial system, Japanese stocks finished 10½ percent lower Tuesday, after falling as much as 16 percent earlier in the day.

Our Federal Reserve Open Market Committee is meeting today for their regularly scheduled meeting. Many expected this meeting’s statement to start laying the groundwork for ending the so-called “quantitative easing” program. Given the events of the day, that seems a lot less likely when we get the statement at 2:15 this afternoon.

The March Empire Manufacturing Survey comes at 10 this morning, but make no mistake, all eyes and ears will be laser-focused on news from Japan all day.

China down 1½ percent, Europe is down about 3 percent. Oil is down more than 3 bucks per barrel and gold is under $1,400 an ounce. 

It looks like the gains we’ve seen in the U.S. stock market this year will completely disappear at the open. We’re off of our worst levels of the morning, but at this point, the futures are still not a pretty picture. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 31 points, the Dow futures are down 244, and the NASDAQ futures are about 59 points below fair value.

March 14, 2011

There’s next to nothing on the docket today in the way of significant economic or earnings news, but that doesn’t mean that traders aren’t sitting on the edge of their collective seat.

The prospect of a possible nuclear meltdown in Japan is enough to get everyone’s attention. Japanese official policy statements aren’t exactly famous for transparency, and of course, no one really knows the exact probability of a major radioactive release. However, the stock market hates uncertainty, and until someone can credibly say that the situation is under control, stocks are going to be under pressure.

In the meantime, the Bank of Japan is doing their best to flood the system with yen. Toyota has halted all production until mid-next week. That will take 40,000 vehicles off the market. Nissan and Sony are also curtailing production.

On this side of the Pacific, Berkshire Hathaway is buying another bread-and-butter business. They’re buying Lubrizol for about 9 billion dollars.

Speaking of oil, it’s down almost a dollar and a half per barrel, with light sweet crude under 100 bucks. Japanese stocks sank over 6 percent overnight. However, the rest of Asia was up a little. Major European markets are lower.

Our futures are indicating a lower, but not horrible open. Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 7 points, the Dow futures are down 46, and the NASDAQ futures are 14 points below fair value.

March 11, 2011

Just in case, for whatever reason, you were fooling yourself into believing that you (or anyone else) could predict the future – well now this. So, instead of fearing a Saudi Arabian “Day of Rage,” it looks like it will be a trans-Pacific “Day of Waves” as this morning’s earthquake and threat of a trans-Pacific tsunami has stock prices and oil prices under water worldwide.

Of course, the loss of life and human trauma in Japan is tragic and can’t be minimized. Financially, big physical disasters are obviously bad news for property insurers, and big reinsurance firms are trading 4 to 5 percent lower in Europe. Somewhat perversely, massive property destruction from a natural disaster can boost future business for many companies due to the physical reconstruction required.

The February Retail Sales report rolls out at 8:30 and is expected to show a one-percent increase overall, with sales up seven-tenths of a percent (ex-autos.) That would compare favorably to last month’s three-tenths of a percent.

Just before 10 o’clock, the first March report on Consumer Sentiment comes from the University of Michigan. This is a number that often correlates inversely to the price of gasoline, so expect 76.5, which would be down a point from last month.

Oil is lower by 2 to 3 bucks per barrel. Major stock markets overseas are all lower. Not surprisingly, Japanese stocks, down 1¾ percent, are the worst of the bunch.

Our futures are lower, but are well off their worst levels of the morning. Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 2½ points, the Dow futures are down 34, and the NASDAQ futures are about 8 points below fair value.

March 10, 2011

The trade has been pretty simple for a few weeks – oil up, stocks down and vice versa. This morning, we have oil down, stocks down, gold down. We’ve got a down blanket over everything. The trouble started in China.

The terms “China” and “trade deficit” are not usually found in the same sentence, let alone the same paragraph, without the term “United States” in between them. But overnight, China reported that their exports grew only 2 percent in February, while imports rose 19 percent. Part of that is likely oil prices. Part of it is timing of the Chinese New Year. But the prospect of a slowing Chinese economy is giving everybody else the shivers so far.

This morning, the Bank of England, which has been making noises about hiking interest rates, hold rates steady at a half of one percent, no doubt hesitant to add economic insult to the injury of rising oil prices.

In ten minutes, the weekly jobless claims report is expected to reflect 385,000 new claims, which would be the third week in a row below 400,000.

General Motors stock, which has been under pressure for a couple of weeks now and is trading well below the first trade of 35 back in November, is under a little more pressure this morning after news broke that CFO Chris Liddell is stepping down.

All numbers are red overseas, with mainland Chinese stocks of more than 2 percent. Our futures have improved quite a bit, but are not painting a particularly pretty picture as we head toward 9:30.  Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 9 points, the Dow futures are down 62, but the NASDAQ futures are a mess once again, now about 20 points below fair value.

March 9, 2011

There could be – just maybe – a little spark in the housing market. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 15½ percent surge in mortgage applications last week. Refinancings rose over 17 percent, with new purchase apps up about 12 percent. So maybe there is a little light at the end of the long housing tunnel.

And how about the long tunnel known as AIG? Until yesterday, AIG still owed the government over 18 billion dollars in bailout money. This morning, that number is lower by about 7 billion, as AIG used the proceeds from its sale of MetLife shares to continue paying the taxpayers back.

Staples will be paying their shareholders back a little more. They raised their dividend 11 percent last night. Honeywell shares could get a boost this morning, after raising their earnings guidance and authorizing a boost in share repurchases.

H&R Block reports results today, as if they had nothing else to do this time of year. A bunch of retailers also report earnings today, including Coldwater Creek, Jo-Ann stores, American Eagle and Men’s Wearhouse. You might like it. I can’t guarantee it.

The majority of stock markets overseas are a little higher.

Our futures have improved a little over the past half hour, but are well off their highs of the morning. Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up about a point and a half, the Dow futures are up 21, but the NASDAQ futures are under pressure again, now a fraction of a point below fair value.

March 8, 2011

It will be another day without much in the way of economic or earnings data to consider. Which is not that big of a deal, in that stock traders have been almost singularly focused on oil prices during the past couple of weeks, to the exclusion of most everything else.

One economic survey is in the news. That’s the one from the National Federation of Independent
Businesses. The nation’s small business owners’ are in a good mood for the 4
threport in a row, with the index rising a little less than a half-point to the 94.5 level. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the long-term average level for the index is 100.

Stock of the average company that reports earnings and sales that miss estimates will trade lower and that will be the case for Urban Outfitters this morning, which is indicated about 12 percent lower pre-market.

McDonald’s is out with February same store sales. While worldwide sales rose, sales in the U.S. fell short of expectations.

Asian markets were mostly higher overnight, but Europe has turned mostly lower.

Once again today, the futures were looking strong early on, but we’ve lost all of that juice over the past couple of hours. The NASDAQ looks particularly weak after an analyst downgraded the semiconductor sector yesterday. At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up a fraction, the Dow futures are down 6 points, and the NASDAQ futures are about 6½ points below fair value.

March 7, 2011

Anniversaries always give us the opportunity to look back, both at good times and bad in our past. This week, we mark the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the most recent bull market in stocks. You may remember two years ago, when stock investors were blankly staring into each other’s eyes, wondering how prices could have dropped that much and when, oh when, would it end.

Well, we can now look back and once again remember the old guideline to, “buy when you’re scared, and sell when you’re confident,” as stock prices have generally doubled over the past two years.

One stock that has about doubled over just the past 3 months or so is Ciena. The maker of networking gear looks to open about 7 or 8 percent lower this morning. They reported a 14 cent loss on the quarter, which was 2 cents better than expected. However, revenue growth, both past and projected was on the light side, and the stock price will be punished accordingly.

Greek sovereign debt was punished this morning by ratings firm Moody’s, which lowered Greek debt three notches to B1. While B1 may be a helpful vitamin, it’s not such a great credit rating.

Our futures were very positive a couple of hours ago. But since then, the markets seem to have just noticed that oil is again higher by a couple dollars per barrel, and we’ve looking at a mixed open for stocks. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down almost a point, the Dow futures are down 10, although the NASDAQ futures are about 2 points above fair value.

 
March 4, 2011

It’s Jobs Friday. At 8:30 this morning the Labor Department will release their report on the domestic employment situation, and traders are expecting some pretty good news. It will be interesting to see how good the number will have to be to sustain yesterday’s huge rally in stock prices.

The consensus estimate is that 185,000 new non-farm jobs were created and that the unemployment rate will tick up to 9.1 percent. That would be the best number since May, but May’s number was artificially skewed higher by census hiring.

At 10 o’clock, we’ll get the January factory orders report. That indicator is expected to rise about 2 percent after an essentially flat December.

If you happen to be looking for a company that has raised its dividend each and every of the last 37 years and continues to serve some very interesting customers that show up in internet emails from time to time, look no farther than your neighborhood Walmart. Last night, Walmart raised their dividend almost 21 percent, to $1.46 per share. Walmart shares rose about one percent after-hours. 

Overseas markets are generally a little bit higher, the standout being mainland China, which rose almost a percent and a half overnight.

Our futures usually hover right around fair value until 8:30 on Jobs Friday. This morning, they are reflecting a bit more optimism than the norm. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by about a point, the Dow futures are up 15 and the NASDAQ futures are about 3 points above fair value.

March 3, 2011

At times, stock traders pay attention to earnings, at other times it’s interest rates or the value of the dollar. For the past couple of weeks, it’s been hard to get the focus off the spiking price of oil. For the first time in a while, oil is lower this morning and although it’s not lower by very much, stock prices look like they may well benefit.

Major retailers will be reporting their February same store sales this morning. So far, there’s good news out of Limited Brands, with a 12 percent jump in same store sales. That was 3 ½ percent better than expected. Victoria’s Secret also beat expectations with a 15 percent jump in sales. Target and GAP both reported worse sales numbers than expected.

Heinz beat earnings estimates by a penny, and the Wendy’s/Arby’s group earned a penny per share last quarter versus a breakeven estimate.

In just about 15 minutes, we’ll get the weekly Jobless Claims. Expect 395,000 new claims and a little later on the ISM Services Index is expected to read 59. That’s a little worse than last month, but still reflective of better conditions for non-manufacturing businesses.

Mainland Chinese stocks fell almost one percent overnight, but other overseas markets are higher.

Our futures are off their highest levels of the morning, but unless we get a pretty awful jobless claims number or oil prices turn around again, stock prices will get off to a pretty good start. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by about 10½ points, the Dow futures are up 80 and the NASDAQ futures are about 17 points above fair value.

March 2, 2011

Things started off fine yesterday. That didn’t last long. Then oil spiked another 4 or 5 bucks per barrel and Ben Bernanke confessed to the Senate Banking Committee that yes, he actually knew how to spell the word “inflation.” Well, that was that and stocks lost about a percent and a half on the day.

This morning, Mr. Bernanke wraps up his semi-annual Humphrey-Hawkins visit with an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee. We’ll see if he’s sticking to his story from yesterday.

Eight times a year, the Federal Reserve puts together a survey of economic conditions in each of its 12 districts. They release the survey results a couple of weeks before monetary policy meetings and today is the day. It’s called the “Beige Book” and it will color traders’ collective mood at 2 o’clock this afternoon.

Major markets overseas are all lower after our dipsy-doodle yesterday. The Japanese index is off almost 2½ percent. Stocks in Saudi Arabia are off about 5 percent as contagion worries spread from relatively unimportant global players to a very important one to everyone who might use some gasoline today. Today’s oil prices are higher by about 50 cents per barrel so far..

Over here, it’s one of those funny mornings when the futures look pretty good – until you glance over at fair value. Once you adjust for fair value, any movement we see at 9:30 will not likely be to the upside.  Adjusted S&P 500 futures are actually down 4 points, the Dow futures are down 24 and the NASDAQ futures are about 5 points below fair value.

March 1, 2011

A surprisingly good Chicago PMI Report and stable oil prices gave stocks another shot in the arm yesterday and it looks like we’ll pick up right where we left off.

It will be another data-filled day. February domestic car sales numbers will be rolling out all day and are expected to show overall light vehicle sales running at a 12.6 million unit rate, with 9.6 million of that coming from the domestic car makers.

At 10 o’clock, the ISM Manufacturing Index will get special attention after that PMI report yesterday. The ISM, which is a survey of 300 manufacturing companies, hit an almost 7 year high last month at 60.8 and is expected to cool off only slightly to a level of 60.5.

Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Geithner are both marching up Capitol Hill today to keep a couple of Congressional Committees entertained.

Overnight, the Indian stock market, which has been having a bit of a rough go of late took off, rising 3½ percent on a surprising car sales report. European markets are mixed, but we should get off to a good start at 9:30.

Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up almost 4 points, the Dow futures are up 30 and NASDAQ futures are about 8 points above fair value.


WJR April 2011 Reports
WJR February 2011 Reports

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