The Day Ahead: Stuck in Oil's Muck

 | Feb 27, 2012 | 8:30 AM EST  | Comments
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In the Headlines

Wall Street appeared set for a lower open Monday. The downside moves in NYSE and Nasdaq futures followed European indices, which showed sharp declines following the weekend's meeting of G-20 finance ministers in Mexico.

Many traders had hoped that the gathering would result in further financial support for the International Monetary Fund, but that failed to occur. Instead, the message was: European nations need to take additional steps to prevent financial crisis contagion.

The euro slumped vs. the greenback early Monday.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite, which has been rallying from January lows, showed gains Monday, while other indices in the region fell. In Japan, a stronger yen dragged down exporters, leading to a loss of 0.14% on the Nikkei.

As in Europe, worries about higher fuel prices put a dent in stock prices Monday.

Economic Docket

Today's econ calendar is light, with the most significant report due out from the National Association of Realtors. At 10 a.m. EST, the trade group releases data on January pending home sales. Analysts see a gain of 1%, an improvement over December's 3.5% decline.

Crude oil slipped by $1.27, to $108.50 per barrel.

Energy research firm Lundberg Survey released data that won't surprise many gasoline buyers (a group that includes just about all of us): The price at the pump for a gallon of gas climbed $0.18 last week to an average of $3.69 per gallon.

Earnings

Home improvement chain Lowe's (LOW) topped quarterly earnings and sales views. It reported income of $0.26 a share, ahead of expectations for $0.24. Sales were $11.6 billion; Wall Street had anticipated $11.3 billion. The company's larger rival Home Depot (HD) also beat views earlier this month.

Lowe's shares jumped $0.84 ahead of the bell, 3.09%, to $28. Home Depot also advanced, gaining $0.22, 0.47%, to $47.20 in the premarket.

Pipeline operator Atlas Energy (ATLS) reports its fourth quarter after today's close. It's expected to earn $0.54 a share, which would mark a significant year-over-year gain. Shares have been consolidating below last month's multiyear high of $27.86.

S&P 500 component Priceline.com (PCLN) reports after the close. Analysts see profit of $5.05 a share on revenue of $967.91 million. Here, too, that would be a case of a year-over-year increase. Shares are trading at their best levels in 12 years.

Priceline was up $1.24, 0.21%, to $591.65 in early trade.

Market Movers

An early gainer Monday was MetroPCS (PCS), advancing $0.59, 4.91%, to $12.60. According to reports, Sprint's (S) board last week nixed an acquisition of the wireless telecom company.

The jump came despite a downgrade to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse, on news of the failed deal.

A downside mover ahead of the bell was coal miner Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), shedding $0.64, 3.13%, to $19.82. CRT Capital downgraded the stock to Sell from Fair Value, citing margin deterioration and valuation.

Analyst Actions

Doughnut and coffee purveyor Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) was initiated with a rating of Buy at Citigroup. Shares went public in July at $19.

Dunkin' slipped $0.21, 0.72%, to $29.01 in the premarket.

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