Say the date Tuesday, October 29, 1929, to most people and you'll probably get a shrug. Say it to a Wall Street trader and you'll likely get a shudder.
It's an ominous anniversary, "Black Tuesday," and even the most hardened bears -- who have been calling a top to this market rally for so long -- don't want to see a repeat of events 84 years ago today when the stock market crashed, begetting the worst economic crisis in American history.
But it is business as usual today, with scores of earnings and a busy slate of economic reports. The Producer Price Index fell by 0.01% in September vs. a gain of 0.03% in August, and September retail sales declined 0.01% vs. 0.02% the previous month. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of housing prices comes out at 9 a.m. ET, and business inventories and consumer confidence are at 10 a.m., respectively.
U.S. stock futures are muted ahead of the start of the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day monthly meeting. Investors will be foraging for any clues about when the central bank intends to ease up on its bond-buying program.
Asian markets lost some ground overnight, and European stocks were buoyed by a dividend boost from BP (BP).
Stateside, Charitable Trust holding Apple (AAPL) beat top- and bottom-line forecasts late Monday and delivered guidance that was about in line with estimates. As for Linn Energy (LINE), CIO and Co-portfolio Manager Stephanie Link said its third-quarter results "showed a marked sequential improvement in its operations and execution, but the major overhangs on the shares remain unresolved."
Also reporting late Monday, Herbalife (HLF) beat bottom-line estimates and posted in-line revenue, raised its outlook and added a new board member. Shares were down less than 1% in premarket trading.
This morning, Charitable Trust holding Occidental (OXY) posted a 15% net-income gain, and Johnson Controls (JCI) delivered quarterly profit in line with consensus and surprised to the upside on revenue. It also said it would explore strategic options for its automotive interiors business.
Among early movers, US Steel (X) shares were falling on a third-quarter loss of $1.79 billion related to a huge impairment charge. Cummins (CMI) shares fell sharply on a wide third-quarter earnings miss. And UBS (UBS) shares slumped more than 6% after the Swiss bank warned it could miss earnings targets due to impending legal costs and new capital regulations at home.
Stocks Under $10 holding Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) missed earnings-per-share views by a penny; Active Power (ACPW) and Yamana Gold (AU) report after the close. Breakout Stocks name Allot Communications (ALLT) reports before the bell, and Ultimate Software (ULTI) reports after the close.