In the Headlines
U.S. stocks appeared ready to continue slipping Friday morning, with futures indicating a lower open.
European stocks skidded early Friday, following Wall Street's decline yesterday as Fed Chief Bernanke, who gave a speech in Minnesota, failed to signal any further central bank aid for the economy. Traders in Europe were also disappointed in yesterday's decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) not to slash interest rates in the face of the region's economic worries. President Obama's jobs plan, which he outlined Thursday night, also fell flat on global markets. Concerns about the European sovereign debt crisis also hurt stocks.
Asian markets also fell Friday, reversing earlier gains. A downward revision of Japan's second-quarter GDP hurt stocks in the region, as did the usual stew of global economic woes.
Economic and Commodities News
The U.S. calendar of economic news is light today, with the Commerce Department's July wholesale inventories and sales report due out at 10 a.m. EDT. Sales are expected to show an increase of 0.8%.
Turning to commodities trade ahead of the bell, crude oil slipped $1 to $88.05 per barrel.
Gold, which rose Thursday as equities slid, continued falling early Friday. The precious metal lost $21.20 per ounce, ending at $1,836.30.
Earnings on Tap
In earnings news, S&P 500 component Kroger (KR) reports its second quarter. The Cincinnati-based grocer is seen earning $0.43 per share on sales of $20.51 billion. Shares have been consolidating since mid-July, and are hovering just below their 200-day moving average.
Mid-cap growth stock Lululemon Athletica (LULU) is also due out with second-quarter results before bell. The yoga-wear retailer showed per-share profit of $0.26 a share, beating estimates of $0.23. Sales were $212.3 million; analysts had expected $206.36 million. The stock has been rallying from an Aug. 22 low, bouncing off its 200-day average. Upside volume was below average in the past two weeks. Shares dropped $3.35, 5.81%, to $54.34 in premarket trade following the earnings news.
Bank of America (BAC), which seems to have major news on a daily basis, fell $0.04, or 0.56%, to $7.16 in early trading. This morning, reports said the company may slash 40,000 jobs as part of its restructuring efforts.
Another beaten-down financial, Citigroup (C), was a big premarket gainer. The stock rose $0.07, or 0.25%, to $28.05, but it has a lot of ground to make up to reverse the year-to-date loss, which totals 40.85% heading into Friday's session.
Texas Instruments (TXN), which issued a downbeat revenue and earnings forecast late Thursday, slumped $0.55, 2.13%, to $25.25 in premarket trade.
Analyst actions included CLSA's initiation of coverage on three semiconductor-sector stocks. Chip-gear makers Lam Research (LRCX) and Applied Materials (AMAT) got started with ratings of Outperform, while KLA Tencor (KLAC) was given a designation of Buy.
Earlier this week, Lam named Martin Anstice CEO, replacing Stephen Newberry. KLA Tencor, meanwhile, was the recipient of several analyst downgrades prior to this morning's cheerier report from CLSA. Chip-gear makers' stocks have suffered this year, on pessimism about spending in the sector.
RBC Capital upgraded Cisco (CSCO) to Sector Perform from Underperform. Cisco shares have edged higher in tepid volume recently, but are still down 19.48% so far in 2011. The stock fell $0.15, 0.92%, to $16.14 in premarket trade, despite the RBC upgrade.