The Day Ahead: Starting 2012 on Up Note

 | Jan 03, 2012 | 8:30 AM EST
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In the Headlines

On the first day of trading for 2012, Wall Street appears set for a significantly higher open. NYSE and Nasdaq futures rose sharply on the heels of overseas rallies and ahead of today's economic releases.

Most European indices were showing gains early Tuesday, with mining-related stocks among the biggest leaders. Data from Germany showed unemployment dropping, which gave the DAX a lift.

The euro was showing gains vs. the dollar before U.S. trading got under way.

In Asia, Chinese manufacturing data boosted stocks in the region, although Shanghai and Tokyo remained closed for the holiday on Tuesday. Other major indices closed sharply higher, with miners also among the price leaders, benefiting from a lower dollar.

Commodities Corner

Gold built on Friday's rally, advancing $23.30 to $1,590.30 per ounce early Tuesday.

Crude oil was up $1.66 to $100.72 per barrel in early Nymex trade.

Today's U.S. economic releases include the Institute for Supply Management's December index, due out at 10 a.m. EST. Economists are eyeing an increase to 53.1 from last month's reading of 52.7.

The Commerce Department's data on November construction spending are set for a 10 a.m. release. Analysts expect that number to rise 0.4%, following October's gain of 0.8%.

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to step up with 2 p.m. with minutes from its last FOMC meeting in December, after which hopes for further quantitative easing were dashed. Analysts will parse the language for signs of dissent among the committee members.

Earnings/Company News

Earnings news is light today. After the bell, Team Industrial (TISI), which provides specialized maintenance and construction services to industrial customers, reports its second quarter. Analysts expect earnings of $0.49 per share on revenue of $154.10 million.

Team is a small company, with a market cap of just $583 million, and it trades only 93,000 shares a day. However, the company has shown excellent earnings and revenue growth in recent quarters, and the stock notched strong gains in the past three months.

In company news, Sears Holdings (SHLD) said it had hired former Brookstone CEO Ron Boire as executive vice president and chief merchandizing officer, and president for Sears and Kmart store formats. Last week the company said it would close as many as 120 Sears and Kmart stores. Shares skidded 47.3% in December.

Early Movers

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) advanced $0.33, 0.77%, to $43.06 ahead of the open. Government data from Macau showed that casino revenue there jumped 42% in 2011. Gamblers from mainland China fueled the growth. Las Vegas Sands operates large properties in Macau.

BP (BP) and Halliburton (HAL) were both early gainers. BP is suing Halliburton to recover costs from 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup. BP advanced $0.77, 1.8%, to $43.51. Halliburton, meanwhile, was up $0.49, 1.42%, to $35.

Apple (AAPL) rose $5, 1.23%, to $410 in early trade. The company is reportedly set to hold a media event in New York later this month. Some analysts expect Apple to announce developments around digital publishing or advertising, rather than Apple TV or an iPad3.

Analyst Actions

It's a busy morning for analyst actions, with some recent IPOs getting some attention. Angie's List (ANGI) , a subscription-based service that rates home-improvement services, was initiated at a number of shops.

Janney Capital, Stifel Nicolaus and ThinkEquity started coverage with Buy ratings. Bank of America gave the stock a Neutral rating, RBC Capital awarded a Sector Perform, and Oppenheimer gave it a Perform rating. The company went public in November at $13. Shares closed Friday at $16.10.

BMO Capital initiated coverage on Zynga (ZNGA) , which made its Nasdaq debut last month at $10, was with a Market Perform rating. Zynga shares were up $0.30, or 3.19%, to $9.71.

Columnist Conversations

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