Market Happenings for Thursday, February 02, 2012

Happy Groundhog’s day! He will probably see his shadow here today (it’s still dark right now though).

Pre-market, futures are down a bit as we get comments from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and also keep an eye on Greece’s debt talks. Gainers this morning include JDSU, EA, QCOM, ALL and IPG while losers include MDT, COF, CMG, PRU and ACN. Light crude is down -0.37% at 97.25 and gold is up +0.10% at 1,751.30.

The Market

Merck (MRK) is up a bit this morning after posting a net fourth-quarter profit of $1.51 billion, or 49 cents per share, compared with a loss of $531 million, or 17 cents a share, a year ago.

Greek officials appear to be making progress toward a debt-reduction agreement with private-sector creditors and a second bailout.

Ben Bernanke heads to Capitol Hill to testify about the Fed’s economic outlook before the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. ET.

The Labor Department released its latest data on initial unemployment claims and productivity before the bell showing that the number of people filing were slightly lower than expected.

Initial jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 28 totaled 367,000, and were expected to total 375,000.

The government’s jobs report due out Friday morning, is expected to show the U.S. economy added 130,000 jobs in January. That would be a sharp slowdown in hiring versus December, when 200,000 jobs were created. The unemployment rate is expected to move up to 8.6%.

European stocks were little changed in midday trading while Asian markets ended higher.

The dollar was up against the euro and the British pound, but was down versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for March delivery was down 46 cents to $97.15 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $2.10 to $1,751.60 an ounce.

The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was down, moving the yield up to 1.83%

Earnings Reports

Earnings reports (confirmed releases): MRK-Merck (earnings consensus $0.95), MA-Mastercard (3.91), DOW-Dow Chemical (0.31), GILD-Gilead Sciences (1.05), NOV-National Oilwell Varco (1.30), AGN-Allergan (1.00), VIAB-Viacom (1.05), SE-Spectra Energy (0.49), CMI-Cummins (2.24), K-Kellogg (0.62), BX-Blackstone Group LP (0.40), CME-CME Group (3.67), GR-Goodrich (1.57), CAH-Cardinal Health (0.76), WYNN-Wynn Resorts Ltd. (1.29), IP-International Paper (0.61).

Financial Calendar

0730 ET Jan Challenger job cuts, Dec +30.6% y/y.

0830 ET Weekly initial unemployment claims expected -6,000 to 371,000, previous +21,000 to 377,000. Weekly continuing claims expected -19,000 to 3.535 million, previous +88,000 to 3.554 million.

0830 ET Q4 non-farm productivity expected +0.8%, Q3 +2.3%. Q4 unit labor costs expected +0.8%, Q3 -2.5%.

0900 ET Chicago Fed President Charles Evans speaks to reporters in Chicago.

1000 ET Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the House Budget Committee on the state of the U.S. economy.

1030 ET Jan ICSC chain store sales, Dec +3.5% y/y.

1630 ET Weekly money supply report and Fed balance sheet.

1915 ET Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher speaks on the economy and Fed policy at the Headliners Club of Austin Famous Austinites Dinner.

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