Market Happenings for Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pre-market, futures are up as oil prices pull back following a seven-day run-up that sent crude 9% higher. Gainers this morning include PCLN, MU, SRE, NRG and AZO while losers include APOL. SWN, BLK, CSX and CCL.

The Market

Globally, stocks are up this morning with Euro stocks up and Asian markets ending mostly higher.

Oil has backed off a bit from its $109 high and is giving reason to rally a bit. The rise in oil prices has still translated into higher gas prices, with the national average rising 21 straight days.

Crude futures have however, eased for a second straight day today, relieving worries that higher gas prices could cause the economic recovery to stall if consumers change their spending habits.

Investors are getting optimistic ahead of the European Central Bank’s second long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) on Wednesday. The central bank will hold its second auction to allow banks to take three-year loans at low interest rates, increasing their balance sheets.

Earnings Reports

Earnings reports (confirmed releases): ECL-Ecolab (earnings consensus $0.70), FE-FirstEnergy (0.75), AZO-AutoZone (4.01), SRE-Sempra Energy (1.06), PGR-Progressive (0.39), WFT-Weatherford International (0.32), HFC-HollyFrontier (1.25), MWE-MarkWest Energy Partners LP (0.49), XYL-Xylem (0.43), RDC-Rowan Cos. (0.31), CVC-Cablevision Systems (0.24), TEG-Integrys Energy Group (0.98), CHKM-Chesapeake Midstream Partners (0.43), NRG-NRG Energy (-0.17), ARCC-Ares Capital Corp. (0.40), FSLR-First Solar (1.57).

Financial Calendar

0745 ET ICSC (Int’l Council of Shopping Centers) weekly retailer sales.

0830 ET Jan Durable goods orders expected -1.0% and unchanged ex transportation, Dec +3.0% and +2.2% ex transportation.

0855 ET Redbook weekly retailer sales.

0900 ET Dec S&P/CaseShiller compostite-20 home price index expected -0.4% m/m and -3.6% y/y, Nov -0.7% m/m and -3.7% y/y. Q4 S&P/CaseShiller hole price index expected -4.3% q/q, Q3 -3.9% y/y.

1000 ET Feb U.S. consumer confidence (Conference Board) expected +1.9 to 63.0, Jan -3.7 to 61.1.

1000 ET Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke testifies to Senate Banking Committee on “State of the Housing Market: Removing Barriers to Economic Recovery.”

1000 ET Feb Richmond Fed manufacturing index expected +1 to 13, Jan +9 to 12.

1130 ET Weekly 4-week T-bill auction.

1915 ET Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto speaks on “Prospects for the Nation and the Region” at the Medina County Economic Development Corporation Annual Meeting.

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