In the Headlines
Wall Street stock futures pointed higher Thursday, ahead of a slew of U.S. economic news and the debut of an eagerly anticipated IPO from designer Michael Kors' company.
European stocks showed gains early Thursday, on the heels of a small improvement in German manufacturing data. A Spanish bond auction was met with strong demand, with yields on the five-year declining.
The euro remained at 11-month lows, but edged fractionally higher vs. the dollar early today.
In Asia, indices closed to the downside. Resources-related names were among the biggest losers. The Shanghai composite skidded to its worst levels in nearly three years - since March, 2009, when U.S. indices began rallying out of the bear.
A survey of Chinese manufacturers showed a decline, although the pace of contraction was not as bad as last month.
It's a busy day for economic data stateside. The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims numbers at 8:30 a.m. EST, with economists eyeing an increase of 390,000. Last week, Labor reported 381,000 new unemployment filings, lower than most analysts had anticipated.
There's more Labor Department data at 8:30 a.m., with the producer price index for November due out. It's expected to show an increase of 0.2%, while the core number, excluding energy and good, is seen rising 0.1%,
The New York Fed will issue December's Empire State manufacturing data at 8:30 a.m. Earlier this year, a surprisingly low number sent stocks tumbling, so this report does have potential to move markets. Manufacturing activity in the New York region is expected to show a big increase, with a reading of 3 vs. November's 0.61.
The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release data on industrial production and capacity utilization at 9:15 a.m. Economists expect to see a production increase of 0.2%, following October's 0.7% gain. Capacity utilization is expected to be unchanged, at 77.8%.
At 10, the Philadelphia Fed steps up with its business outlook survey. As with other forecasts today, the outlook is optimistic, with analysts seeing a gain to 5 from 3.6 last month.
Crude oil advanced $0.58 to $95.53 per barrel in early Nymex trade. Gold, which has been under selling pressure, advanced $5.70 early Thursday, to $1,592.60 per ounce.
FedEx (FDX) reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of $1.57 per share, topping views of $1.52. Revenue was slightly below expectations, at $10.59 billion. Analysts had anticipated $10.608 billion. The company cited stronger demand for residential delivery services, likely due to online retailing. FedEx shares flew $2.71, or 3.51%, to $80 in the premarket.
Fellow S&P 500 component Discover Financial Services (DFS) is also set to report before the bell. The credit-card issuer and transaction processor is expected to earn $0.92 per share, with revenue of $1.81 billion in the fourth quarter. Despite a big jump in earnings growth in recent quarters, revenue growth rates have been mired in the low single digits.
After the close, graphics software maker Adobe Systems (ADBE) is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. Wall Street has pegged earnings at $0.60 a share on revenue of $1.09 billion. The stock has been struggling below key moving averages recently.
A report sure to get a lot of attention after the bell comes from Research In Motion (RIMM). The company is expected to report income of $1.19 per share on sales of $5.27 billion. Both top- and bottom-line results have been slowing lately, and the beleaguered company's share price has been beaten down 74% this year.
Chip gear maker Novellus (NVLS) bolted $7.99, 23.03%, to $42.69, following news late yesterday that it would be acquired by Lam Research (LRCX) in a stock deal valued at $3.3 billion, or $44.42 per share. Lam shares fell $0.48 to $39, a decline of 1.22%.
A big premarket decliner was Deckers Outdoor (DECK), shedding $5.84, 6.11%, to $89.75, following a Sterne Agee downgrade. Going into today's session, the stock was already down 8.1% for the week.
Sterne Agee downgraded the stock to Underperform from Buy after channel checks showed weaker-than-expected sales of UGG boots.
DJIA component AT&T (T) T was demoted to Underperform from Neutral at Macquarie, which cited slowing wireless growth and an inferior spectrum, among other factors. AT&T shares were up by a penny, a fractional gain, to $28.82 in early trade.
Michael Kors' IPO project is on the runway, with shares making their NYSE debut today under the ticker KORS. The maker of designer clothing, shoes and accessories priced 47.2 million shares at $20, above the proposed range of $17 to $19.
While Kors' celebrity has brought attention to his company's public-market launch, there are two more IPOs slated for today.
Oil and gas explorer Laredo Petroleum sold 17.5 million shares at $17, below the planned range of $18 to $20. The company will list on the NYSE under the ticker LPI.
Also debuting today is Mid-Con Energy Partners, which develops energy-producing properties in the central U.S. The company sold 5.4 million shares at $18, lower than its proposed range of $19 to $21. It begins trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker MCEP.