In the Headlines
After yesterday's heavy-volume gap down, Nasdaq futures pointed to a moderately higher open Tuesday. NYSE stocks, which notched big declines in lighter trading volume on Monday, also appeared poised for a stronger open.
After Monday's expected failure of the Congressional not-so-super Committee, bond rater Fitch said it would review its rating of U.S. debt, but a downgrade did not appear likely. Standard & Poor's and Moody's reaffirmed their current ratings, giving the market some relief this morning.
Meanwhile, European stocks were trading in positive territory, with bargain hunters snapping up shares and sellers taking a breather.
Fitch had some words for Spain, too, noting that the nation's new government must take some serious steps to meet its debt cutting goals. Yield on the Spanish three-month bill was rising, but that development did not result in selling across the eurozone.
The euro was trading to the upside vs. the dollar early Tuesday.
In Asia, stocks ended mixed, having started the session on a bad note, following U.S. losses. Financials were among the biggest losers in Asian trade Tuesday.
Several Japanese exporters saw gains on a stronger dollar, although the Nikkei closed 0.40% lower.
Today's U.S. economic reports include the revised third-quarter GDP numbers from the Commerce Department. Analysts expect growth of 2.3%, down from the previous reading of 2.5%. The data are due out at 8:30 a.m. EST.
At 2 p.m. EST, the Federal Reserve is set to release minutes from its last policy committee meeting. Economists, journalists and various others will scour the statement for signals about the likelihood of further quantitative easing.
Turning to commodities, copper, which has been drifting lower, notched a gain of $0.0525 per ounce early Tuesday, to $3.36.
Gold rose $17 per ounce, to $1,695.60 in early Comex trade.
West Texas Intermediate crude was up $1.27, to $98.19 per barrel.
This morning's round of earnings news includes a first-quarter report from S&P 500 component Campbell's Soup (CPB). The company earned $0.82 a share with revenue of $2.16 billion. Wall Street had expected earnings of $0.79 a share on revenue of $2.21 billion. The shares have been trending higher in the past three months. Before Tuesday's open, they were perched just above key moving averages.
Fellow food processor Hormel (HRL) said it earned $0.43 a share in the third quarter, a penny ahead of views. Revenue was $2.1 billion, slightly below views, but the maker of Spam in a can boosted its 2012 outlook and raised its annual dividend.
Medical implant maker Medtronic (MDT) said second-quarter earnings were $0.84 per share, $0.02 better than expected. Revenue came in at $4.13 billion, topping views of $4.07 billion.
Premarket movers Tuesday included Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which beat fourth-quarter income late Monday. CEO Meg Whitman said 2012 would be a rebuilding year, and the company's outlook came in below Wall Street views. The shares fell $0.41, 1.53%, to $26.45 in early trade.
Another premarket decliner was Netflix (NFLX), tumbling $4.47, 6%, to $70. The beleaguered company sold $400 million in common stock and convertible notes. Half went to accounts managed by T. Rowe Price, and the other half went to private equity and venture capital firm Technology Crossover Ventures.
Cannacord reinitiated coverage of Netflix with a rating of Sell, citing increasing content costs, subscriber losses and greater competition.
ThinkEquity initiated coverage on Intuit (INTU) and Microsoft (MSFT). Intuit was awarded a Buy rating, with the analyst saying core products TurboTax and QuickBooks were poised for higher sales.
Microsoft was given a rating of Hold, with ThinkEquity citing pricing pressures and valuation. Microsoft was up $0.18, 0.72%, to $25.18 in the premarket.