March 27, 2015
The Government gets three chances to guess at what the nation’s economic output was for the quarter gone by. At 8:30 their third and final estimate of 4thquarter GDP will be announced. It’s expected to come in at 2.4 percent, which would be a slight upward revision from the February estimate. GDP in the U.S. has pretty much been stuck in the 1 percent to 3 percent range for over 5 years now.
Just before 10 o’clock, The University of Michigan will also give us their final verdict on the March mood of the consumer. Expect it to perk up to a reading of 92.1.
Dow Chemical is spinning off a chlorine unit and merging it with Olin Corporation to form a company with a projected 7 billion dollars in revenue. Traders like the idea as shares of both Olin and Dow Chemical are higher pre-market. Dow by about 5 percent, Olin is more than 25 percent higher.
Gamestop shares are almost 5 percent lower on disappointing earnings.
Stock markets overseas are mixed. We’ve had four declines in a row this week, but it looks like we’ll start Friday without a lot of change from Thursday’s close. At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 are down less than a point, the Dow futures are down 7, but the NASDAQ futures are about 3 points above fair value.
March 26, 2015
With only four trading days left in the first calendar trading quarter of 2015, you might expect some companies to be lowering earnings guidance, especially given the strength of the dollar. Not to disappoint this morning, SanDisk cuts its earnings outlook, and traders are cutting the value of SanDisk shares by about 12 percent. Lululemon also lowered guidance, but those shares are only off by about 2 ½ percent.
On the famous other hand, shares of ConAgra Foods are one of the few stocks on the rise pre-market. Better than expected earnings, higher guidance and a stock price that’s about 3 percent higher pre-market. Shares of Accenture are also a little higher after a good earnings report.
It’s Thursday, so weekly jobless claims numbers come at 8:30. Expect 293,000 new claims. The PMI Services sector flash report and the Kansas City Fed survey come this morning along with a couple of Fed-head speeches.
Outside of mainland China, markets overseas are a mess after our sell-off yesterday, which does not appear to be quite over with as of yet.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are lower by 12 points, the Dow futures are down 103 (After being about 150 points lower earlier this morning) and the NASDAQ futures are more than 44 points below fair value.
March 25, 2015
Do you like a little Ketchup of your Macaroni and Cheese? Maybe some pimento sauce on your Velveeta? Here it comes, everybody, Kraft Foods and Heinz foods are merging, and Warren Buffett reportedly relishes the deal. Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital have agreed to the deal.
Kraft shareholders will come out of the merger owning 49% of the stock of HeinzKraft. They’ll also get $16.50 in a special cash dividend, funded with 10 billion in cash from 3G and Berkshire. Heinz shareholders will own the other 51 percent of the new company. Kraft shares are indicated about 35 percent higher pre-market. The deal isn’t expected to add to earnings for a couple of years, but it appears that Buffett wants to own the combined company for his favorite holding period. Which is, of course, forever. Pay attention, day traders.
The February Durable Goods number comes in 15 minutes, and is expected to have cooled off to an increase of seven-tenths of a percent.
Stock prices once again faded into the close yesterday and closed at their lows of the day.
Asian markets were mixed overnight. Other than Greece, Europe is lower.
It doesn’t look like much of interest will happen in the early going with our market. At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up a point and a half, the Dow futures are up 9, can the NASDAQ futures are about 9 points above fair value.
March 24, 2015
Stock prices were doing pretty well until the last few minutes of trading yesterday. At that point, one or more of the big machines apparently hit the “sell” button and the major averages lost ground on the day.
But, today is another day. Although we’ll be a little light on earnings news, we have a couple of economic reports on the way this morning that could be of interest.
At 8:30, the February Consumer Price Index is expected to reflect two-tenths of a percent increase. That would follow the minus seven-tenth of a percent decrease in January, spurred on by the then-rapidly-declining gasoline prices.
At 10 o’clock, the February New Home Sales Report is expected to show an annualized rate of 470,000 units. That’s not quite as much as January. Yesterday’s Existing Home Sales Report was a bit shy of expectations, but showed some recovery from a disappointing January figure.
Last night Chesapeake Energy announced a big cut in its cap-ex budget and the shares are nearly 5 percent higher this morning.
Overseas markets are mixed, and really not much changed overnight. If our market were to open right now, it would open higher, even though the futures are off their best levels of the morning. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up 3 points, the Dow futures are up 31 points, but the NASDAQ futures are still about 10 points above fair value.
March 23, 2015
We’re rounding the curve and heading into the last week of trading for the quarter after a pretty good week gone by.
The February Existing Home Sales Report comes at 10 o’clock. Sales in February are expected to bounce back to an annualized rate of 4.9 million units. The January number of 4.82 million was a big drop-off from December and the lowest annualized rate since April of last year. Most of the heavy economic data comes later in the week.
Neogen and Carnival Cruise Lines will report earnings today.
There are a couple of Federal Reserve executives out on the speaking trail today as traders try to figure out just when short term interest rates will start to normalize. Asian markets were mixed overnight. Outside of Greece, and possibly Spain, European markets are trending lower.
Our futures are much improved from a couple of hours ago. The Dow Jones futures were more than 50 points lower this morning. But at this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up a fraction, the Dow futures are up 4 points, but the NASDAQ futures are still about a point below fair value.
March 20, 2015
Wednesday’s big rally in the Dow went into hiding yesterday, but appears to have found its way back to Wall Street this morning on the back of some good earnings news and a positive drug test result.
Biogen released their highly anticipated update on an anti-Alzheimer’s drug this morning and the results were encouraging. So far, they’ve encouraged traders to bid up BiogenIdec stock by more than 6 percent pre-market.
Darden Restaurants shares are nearly 5 percent higher this morning after beating earnings expectations. Nike beat their bogey last night, but warned that strength in the U.S. dollar will slow earnings this quarter. Still, the shares are indicated higher.
Tiffany matched the earnings estimate this morning, but margins missed and the stock is indicated almost 4 percent lower.
The economic report cupboard is pretty much bare today, but it doesn’t matter. Everybody will be watching basketball, anyway.
Asian markets were mixed overnight, but Europe is nicely higher, and we’re looking to regain yesterday’s losses right off the get-go this morning. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are higher by 12 points, the Dow futures are up 144, but the NASDAQ futures are now about 31 points above fair value.
March 19, 2015
It wasn’t exactly as impressive as watching an Atlas rocket leave Cape Canaveral, but the trajectory was strikingly similar. Yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock, with the Dow Jones Industrials down about 100 points, the Fed announced that they had wordsmithed their policy statement, but are in no hurry to actually raise interest rates.
That lit the big candle and moved the Dow up a couple hundred points in a few minutes. The Dow eventual closed the day up 227 points. Adding to today’s intrigue is the addition of Apple to the Dow Average, which replaces AT&T this morning.
Shares of Michaels Stores, which have rallied hard over the past few months are about one percent higher in the pre-market after beating the earnings estimate of 74 cents by a penny. Guidance was a little on the soft side, but the shares are still indicated higher.
So too are shares of home-builder Lennar. They’re bid a little higher on a good earnings report.
Hewlett Packard is raising their dividend by 10 percent.
The euro, which spiked higher from about $1.05 to over $1.10 after the Fed announcement yesterday is back on the downward path today at about $1.06 per euro.
Overseas markets are mostly higher after our big rally. We’re looking at a mixed open. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are lower by almost 2 points, the Dow futures are down 27, but the NASDAQ futures are now about 6 points above fair value.
March 18, 2015
We have an interesting afternoon on the way. They’re all interesting, but this one more than most. At 2 o’clock, we’ll get the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee’s decision on the current interest rate playbook. Then, at 2:30, Janet Yellen will give the color commentary. It’s hard to believe that the Fed is in any hurry to raise short term rates, given soft economic data and the strength of the dollar worldwide. Of course, it’s also hard to believe that we’ve been a zero rates as long as we have been. Still, any indication that the Fed is preparing to move sooner than later, will not put traders in a good mood.
There are a couple of earnings reports to consider. General Mills beat estimates and gave a good outlook. General Mills shares are looking to open almost 2 percent higher. On the inevitable other hand, FedEx shares are looking a bit lower. They reported $2.01 in quarterly operating profit, which beat estimates by 14 cents. However, revenue was a little light, guidance was conservative, and the shares are looking about 2 percent lower pre-market.
Overseas markets are mixed. Our futures have lost their early gains, although many times on Fed decision day, stock prices arrive at 2 o’clock little changed. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are lower by about 8½ points, the Dow futures are down 75, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 13 points below fair value.March 17, 2015 - No report today. Ron's downtown at the party! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
March 16, 2015
Coming off a very choppy and not very pleasant week for stock prices, traders will await Wednesday afternoon for the next “big clue.” The Fed’s Open Market Committee will meet tomorrow and Wednesday and are widely expected to issue a statement on Wednesday hinting that a short term interest rate hike could come at any time.
Currency traders aren’t waiting for any more indications from the Fed. They continue to push the euro lower. A single euro costs $1.05 this morning, and Goldman Sachs predicts that within 2 years, a euro will be worth only 80 cents. Keep in mind that less than 4 years ago, a euros went for just about $1.48.
The Empire Manufacturing Report and the Industrial Production Report come before trading opens at 9:30 this morning and both are expected to reflect tepid growth, at best.
Asians markets were mixed overnight. Greek stocks are lower, but most European markets are higher. The German DAX Index topped 12,000 for the first time ever. Our futures are off their earlier levels, but are still indicating a little bounce-back at 9:30. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are higher by almost 6 points, the Dow futures are up 56, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 12 points above fair value.
March 13, 2015
For those who watch stock prices a little too closely, it’s been a scary week. And now it’s Friday the 13th. What a set-up!
On the upside this morning after very good earnings reports are shares of El Pollo Loco and Ulta Beauty. Lots of people evidently into looking good while eating their chicken and guacamole. But, they’re evidently not stopping at Aeropostale to buy something to look good IN. Aeropostale shares are off about 5 percent this morning on lousy guidance.
At 8:30 we’ll find out how rapidly producer prices rose last month. Expect a headline number of 3 tenths of a percent, but only a one-tenths of a percent increase excluding food and energy.
And if you believe the surveys, the mood of the consumer has been improving pretty steadily since November of last year. The University of Michigan’s first read on March’s number comes just before 10 this morning, and it’s expected to drift a little higher to a reading of 96. It was less than 75 back in November.
Overseas markets are mixed, and our futures have taken a turn for the worse during the past hour or so. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are lower by 4 points, the Dow futures are down 52, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 7 points below fair value.March 12, 2015
If you love roller coasters, the fabricated wooden roller coaster otherwise known as shares of Lumber Liquidators has been a white-knuckle thrill ride over the past week. After a 60 minutes report that questioned the amount of formaldehyde in some Lumber Liquidator products, the stock plunged. This morning, Lumber Liquidator shares are looking to open more than 6 percent higher. The company will offer free third party air quality testing to its customers and stands by the safety of its products.
Men’s Wearhouse is also indicated higher after reporting earnings. On the post-earnings report downside this morning are Box, Krispy Kreme and Shake Shack.
Weekly Jobless Claims are expected to total 310,000 at 8:30. Also at 9:30, February Retail sales are expected to have increased three-tenths of a percent, or a half percent excluding autos and energy. And a report that seldom gets a lot of attention, the business inventory report, comes at 10 o’clock. Traders may pay a little more attention to the January Report. A big spike higher in inventories in December has some calling it a red flag of trouble ahead.
Our stock market could not hold on to early gains yesterday, but it’ll be try, try again in the early going today. Our futures have been on the rise most of the morning.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are higher by 7½ points, the Dow futures are up 73 points, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 15 points above fair value.
March 11, 2015
As ugly as the futures looked yesterday morning, things got much worse after trading got underway. By the time it was over stock prices were almost 2 percent lower, with the S&P 500 now negative for 2015. The market hates it when you dramatically change the ground rules, and the value of the dollar is a pretty basic ground rule. The dramatically rising value of the dollar will make your next foreign vacation a lot cheaper. But it also means that domestic exports are a much tougher sell, which will not help earnings for the big U.S. multi-nationals this year.
Shares of retailer Express are about 8 percent higher in the pre-market after a good earnings report and optimistic guidance this morning. Krispy Kreme is indicated a bit higher, in anticipation of their earnings report.
A recent survey indicates that more than 60 percent of those expecting a tax refund this year are planning to use it to pay off debt. Of course, with a little discipline and tax planning, those people could avoid a tax refund and perhaps not have incurred the debt to begin with. Pay attention out there, people.
Overseas markets are mixed, although mainland Europe has been trending a bit higher. Our futures are off their highs if the morning, but are still indicating a bit of a recovery from yesterday’s drubbing.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are higher by 6 points, the Dow futures are up 56 points, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 13½ points above fair value.
March 10, 2015
We’re officially entering the seventh year of the current bull market today. Since the bottom, the Dow Industrials has risen about 175 percent. And by the way, the NASDAQ hit its all-time high 15 years ago today at 5048. At its low point in 2009, the NASDAQ sank to just over 1,100.
Stock prices rose about one-half of one percent yesterday, although trading was pretty choppy throughout the day. Today, we’ll hit some tough headwinds in the early going. Fanning those headwinds, once again, is the ongoing drama between Germany and Greece.
The Greek finance minister is quoted this morning as saying that it should have been obvious to the EU that Greece was hopelessly debt ridden and wouldn’t have any realistic chance to repay its debts. That may well be true, but it’s not great positioning is you’re looking for the EU, and specifically the Germans, to support additional loans. By the way, the euro, which came into being in 2009 at about $1.17 in 1999 is worth less than $1.08 this morning.
Qualcomm has a little cash burning a hole in its figurative pocket. Qualcomm has announced a 14% increase in its dividend and a 15 billion dollar share buyback.
The Labor Department’s JOLTs survey comes at 10 this morning, but when the market opens at 9:30, it will open lower. Major European markets are about one percent lower right now, and we’re likely to follow suit at the open.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are down nearly 22 points, the Dow futures are down 202 points, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 36 points below fair value.
March 9, 2015
There’s big news for General Motors shareholders this morning. Management has reached a deal with an activist investor who had been seeking a Board seat in a quest to get General Motors to part with some of the cash on its balance sheet.
The deal reportedly will have GM buying back 5 billion dollars in stock right away, and promising to return to shareholders any cash that accumulates above a $20 billion dollar balance. That will mean an enhanced dividend for at least the next couple of years. While other big companies carry much more than 20 billion in cash for business purposes, the activist shareholders are agitating for actions that supercharge the stock price. GM shares closed under 37 dollars per share on Friday. You may remember that the shares came to market in 2010 at 33 dollars per share. In response to the deal, GM shares at higher by about 3½ percent pre-market.
The big winner of the morning will be shares of RTI International Metals. Shares may open nearly 50% higher on the news that Alcoa will buy RTI for 1½ billion dollars.
For those of you who just HAVE to have the latest gadget, watch for the unveiling of the Apple Watch today.
Chinese stocks rose overnight, but other major markets overseas are lower.
Our futures have dug out of an early hole and are slightly positive. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are up 2 points, the Dow futures are up 22, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 11 points above fair value.March 6, 2015
Traders are once again in wait-and-see mode after a modest recovery in stock prices yesterday. Waiting, that is, for the Labor Department’s 8:30 report on the nation’s employment situation. At least it’s supposed to come at 8:30. The Government’s Washington DC offices are reportedly operating on a 2 hour weather-related delay this morning. So, we’ll get it when we get it.
Expect that 230,000 new non-farm jobs came into being in February, just about all in the private sector. That would be down from 257,000 in January, which was lower than December, which was lower than November. So job creation appears to be slowing a bit. Although the old definition still applies: a recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when YOU lose YOUR job. The Unemployment Rate is expected to drop to 5.6 percent.
Of course, if you do, you’ll have more time to go to the gym, which may soon be in private hands. Shares of Lifetime Fitness are getting pumped this morning on word that a private equity fund may be looking for an investment.
And while we’re sort of on the subject, shares of Foot Locker are higher by almost 5 percent premarket. One dollar of quarterly earnings beat the estimate by 9 cents.
Overseas markets are mostly a little higher. Our stock futures continue to hover around fair value. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are up a point, the Dow futures are up 7, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 3½ points above fair value.
March 5, 2015
We have a little bit of everything in business news this morning. There’s interest rate news, for instance. The Bank of England and the European Central Bank held rates steady this morning. Brazil, on the famous other hand, raised rates to a six-year high.
There’s merger news, as drug firm AbbVie will acquire a firm named Pharmacyclics, which is the owner of a hot cancer drug. You may not have heard of Pharmacyclics, but AbbVie’s going to pony up a 13% premium and 21 billion dollars to acquire it.
Heading up the earnings parade is Costco. $1.35 in quarterly profit handily beat the $1.18 estimate. Ten or twelve cents of that may have been an unexpected tax benefit, but it’s a beat nonetheless on an 8 percent rise in same-store sales excluding fuel and Costco shares are looking almost two percent higher this morning.
The Challenger layoff survey reported over 50,000 announced job cuts in February, most in the energy sector. At 8:30, expect weekly jobless claims to come in at 300,000 new claims after last week’s spike up to 313,000.
China was lower overnight after lowering their target GDP to “only” 7 percent. Europe is mostly higher. At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are higher by almost 4 points, the Dow futures are up 43, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 9 points above fair value.
March 4, 2015
Leading the price slippage may be shares of Abercrombie & Fitch. Last quarter was expected to be bad, but not quite as bad as it turned out to be. Fourth quarter same store sales at Abercrombie & Fitch were down 10 percent, overall sales were down 14 percent, and the retailer forecasts trouble ahead from the impact of a stronger dollar. After losing almost 2 percent yesterday, Abercrombie shares are indicated almost 6 percent lower pre-market today. On the famous other hand American Eagle shares are popping about 9 percent higher on a good earnings report.
And speaking of a stronger dollar, there was another foreign interest rate cut overnight, this time from the Indian Central Bank.
About two minutes ago, the ADP employment report told us about 212,000 new jobs in February, a little less than 220,000 expectation.
We’ll also get news about the services sector of the economy by 10 o’clock via the PMI Services Index and the ISM Services Index. But, in front of that prices should head a little lower, even though the futures are in better shape than they were earlier in the morning.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are down 6 ½ points, the Dow futures are down 42, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 11 points below fair value.
March 3, 2015
March got off to a flying start yesterday, with the NASDAQ closing above 5,000 for only the third time in history. March has recently been a pretty good time of the year for stock investors. In fact, the last time the Dow Jones Industrial average declined in March was 2008, and the by only three points.
Also on the rise this morning are shares of Best Buy. A company that a lot of people had given up for dead posted quarterly operating earnings of $1.48 per share, which was 13 cents ahead of estimates. Best Buy launched a stock buyback program, raised its dividend by 21 percent to 23 cents per share and will pay a special dividend of 51 cents per share. In response, the shares are higher by about 4½ percent pre-market.
Dick’s Sporting Goods shares are also having a good morning, after the company reported earnings of $1.30, eight cents better than expected.
February Car sales results will be rolling out as the day rolls on.
The EU is reportedly talking about a third bailout for Greece. The Greek market is higher at this hour, but the rest of Europe is lower as are our futures.
Adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures are down 6 points, the Dow futures are down 57, and the NASDAQ futures are now about 12½ points below fair value.
March 2, 2015
Over the weekend, Warren Buffett issued his 50thannual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. You don’t have to own the stock to read the letter. But whether or not you decide to own the stock, the letter is always a worthwhile read, especially if you’re in search of a little common sense. For instance, here are a couple of gems from this year’s letter…………..
“Market forecasters will fill your ear, but never fill your wallet.” and
“It is madness to risk losing what you need in pursuing what you simply desire.”
Good business advice and good personal advice, it seems.
It’s also good NOT to be a shareholder in Lumber Liquidators this morning. The stock had been quite the high-flyer during 2012 and 2013. However, the shares are down about 25 percent in the pre-market this morning after a 60 Minutes piece last night regarding the amount of formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese-made laminate flooring.
NXP Semiconductor is buying Freescale Semiconductor for12 billion dollars in cash and stock. Costco has reportedly agreed to a deal with Citigroup and Visa effective April 1, 2016 to replace Costco’s former relationship with American Express.
February gave us the best month that domestic stocks have seen in almost 3½ years. We’ll see how March starts off. Europe is a little lower. Adjusted for fair value, S&P 500 futures and flat, but the Dow futures are up 32, and the NASDAQ futures are now 9 points above fair value.
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