In the Headlines
On a day that brings a couple of eagerly anticipated S&P 500 earnings reports, Wall Street stocks appeared poised for a lower open.
Financials have been under the microscope, but better-than-expected results early Thursday from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) failed to give futures a bounce.
The S&P 500 has advanced 6.7% so far this month. Wednesday's 1% gain came in heavier volume than the prior session. Though the index rallied to the 1220 level, after some selling in the later part of the session, it closed below those highs.
Likewise, the Nasdaq Composite and the Dow hit recent resistance levels, but reversed lower, still ending the session with healthy gains.
After advancing in the past several sessions, European stocks posted losses Thursday morning. The European Central Bank (ECB) said forcing private sector investors to take bailout-related losses would have "direct negative effects" on banks.
French retailer Carrefour, the world's second largest, tumbled in Paris trade after the company slashed its profit guidance on economic uncertainties.
Asian indices finished Thursday's session mostly higher, following the gains in U.S. trade yesterday. Japan's Nikkei ended nearly 1% higher, with exporters and chip-related stocks among the biggest gainers.
In addition to today's earnings reports, traders will keep an eye on the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data, due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists anticipate new claims of around 405,000. Last week, the number came in at 410,000.
The Commerce Department is also set to release the August international trade numbers at 8:30 a.m. Analysts are expecting the trade gap to have expanded to $46 billion, up from July's level of $44.8 billion.
Commodity prices slipped before Wall Street's open. In electronic trade, West Texas Intermediate crude slipped $1.33 to $84.24 per barrel.
Gold shed $10.90 per ounce to $1,671.70 in early trade.
Corn, which made a huge move earlier in the week, was down $7.25 per bushel, to $633.50 in electronic trade.
In earnings news, DJIA component JPMorgan Chase said third-quarter earnings per share (EPS) were $1.02, topping expectations of $0.93. Revenue was $24.4 billion, better than expectations for $23.53 billion. The company reported a decline in investment banking revenue. JPMorgan shares fell $0.57, 1.72%, to $32.63 following the news.
Google (GOOG) is scheduled to release its third-quarter report. Analysts see profit coming in at $8.74 per share on revenue of $7.21 billion.
The company won't comment on rumors that it may acquire content optimization specialist Akamai (AKAM). Akamai is a former growth leader whose fundamentals and technicals have deteriorated in recent quarters. Akamai shares bolted $0.88, or 3.77%, to $24.25 on the rumors.
Meanwhile, Google shares have struggled this year after a July rally attempt fizzled. However, the stock made a strong upside move last week, along with the general market, in heavier-than-average volume.
In addition to Akamai, premarket movers included small-cap laggard AOL (AOL), which is climbing $0.35, or 2.66%, to $13.50. According to published reports, AOL has been touting the idea of selling itself to another flailing Internet content company, Yahoo! (YHOO). Of course, prospects for that particular deal are clouded by Yahoo!'s own efforts to fetch a buyer. Yahoo! shares were down $0.07, or 0.44%, to $15.70 ahead of the open.
Copper and gold miner Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) fell $0.89, or 2.48%, to $35, despite BB&T's initiating coverage on the company with a Buy rating. Heading into Thursday's session, the stock was up nearly 18% so far this month.
BB&T also boosted high-end housewares retailer Williams-Sonoma (WSM) to Buy from Hold. The stock's price has been consolidating since May. Earnings and sales growth have been declining in recent quarters.