The Day Ahead: Futures Lower Ahead of Jobs Data

 | Feb 09, 2012 | 8:22 AM EST  | Comments
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In the Headlines

U.S. stock futures pointed lower Thursday, as traders awaited jobless claims data.

In the ongoing Greek drama, the nation reportedly made some progress toward cutting its expenses, although a final deal with its creditors was still nowhere in sight.

European stocks kept their gains after the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged at 1%.

Earlier, the Bank of England also left key interest rate unchanged, at 0.5%, and as expected, announced a new round of quantitative easing.

The euro edged slightly lower vs. the dollar early Thursday.

Asian stocks closed Thursday's session mixed, with higher-than-expected Chinese inflation data affecting regional markets. Many analysts believe the rise in the consumer price index means Beijing may soon ease interest-rate pressure.

Economic Docket

At 8:30 a.m. EST, the Labor Department is set to issue its weekly jobless claims data. Economists see a rise to rise to 370,000 from last week's tally of 367,000 new claims.

At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department is scheduled to report wholesale inventories for December. Analysts expect an increase of 0.4%. That number was up 0.1% in November.

Commodities Corner

In commodities trading, crude oil gained $0.65 per barrel, to $99.36. The upside trade came despite OPEC's announcement that it had cut its forecast for global oil demand this year.

Earnings News

Before today's opening bell, Pepsi (PEP) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.15 excluding items, which beat estimates by $0.02. Revenue also came in ahead of expectations, at $20.2 billion. Wall Street had been eyeing $19.9 billion. The company said it would slash 8,700 jobs worldwide to achieve cost savings of $1.5 billion. Pepsi shares fell $0.66, 0.99%, to $66.06 in premarket trade.

Also reporting early Thursday was Dunkin Brands (DNKN), which earned $0.10 per share in the fourth quarter, on sales of $168.5 million.

Philip Morris International (PM), which was a favorite of many dividend investors in the fourth quarter of 2011, is also set to report before today's open. The company is expected to earn $1.09 a share on revenue of $7.38 billion.

After the close, Apple supplier Nuance Communications (NUAN) is scheduled to report its first-quarter results. The company is expected to earn $0.36 a share on revenue of $391.55 million. Those would mark year-over-year improvements.

Closely watched recent IPO LinkedIn (LNKD) is also set to report late Thursday. Income is seen coming in at $0.07 a share, with revenue at $159.72 million. LinkedIn shares were trading $0.33 lower ahead of the bell, a loss of 0.43%, to $76.21. The shares went public at $45 in May.

Market Movers

Early price movers included Cisco (CSCO), which delivered better-than-expected quarterly results late Wednesday. ISI Group downgraded the stock to Hold from Buy. The shares fell $0.30, 1.47%, to $20.13 in the premarket.

Diamond Foods (DMND), whose shares plummeted late last year on questions about accounting issues, crashed early Thursday, following news that the CEO and CFO had been put on administrative leave. The accounting questions are raising doubts about the company's planned acquisition of the Pringles brand from Procter & Gamble (PG). Diamond shares plunged $14.91, 40.67%, to $21.75 ahead of the bell.

Analyst Actions

Analyst moves included a Deutsche Bank downgrade of blue chip 3M (MMM) to Hold from Buy. The analyst cited valuation and the retirement of CEO George Buckley.

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