TechBytes: Apple's Big Announcement
There's No Business Like FOX Business
Stocks started flat to slightly lower at Wednesday's kickoff as the markets play it cautious ahead of a slew of potential market-moving events, including a new report on new home sales, Apple's new product launch and the Fed's latest policy statement.
As of 9:32 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34.38 points, or 0.34%, to 10158.97, the Standard & Poor's 500 sank 2.80 points, or 0.26%, to 1089.37 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 3.61 points, or 0.16%, to 2200.36. The FOX 50 dropped 1.71 points, or 0.22%, to 790.51.
The apprehensive start on Wall Street comes as the markets have struggled to bounce back from last week’s tumble, the Dow’s steepest weekly decline since early March 2009. The markets took a late-day slide on Tuesday to end flat and closed just modestly higher on Monday.
There isn’t a shortage of potential market-moving events on Wednesday, with stocks likely to be influenced by upcoming data on new home sales, a report on crude oil inventories, a new product unveiling from Apple(AAPL: 204.15, -1.79, -0.87%), a bombshell recall for Toyota (TM: 80.52, -6.23, -7.18%) and the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting. Also, traders are likely to be glued to their TVs tonight for President Obama’s first State of the Union address.
A trio of Dow components reported quarterly profits that exceeded Wall Street’s expectations Wednesday morning. Defense giant Boeing (BA: 59.88, 2.21, 3.83%) rose 3% after beating the Street with a non-GAAP profit of $1.77 a share, well above estimates for $1.36. While its revenue also topped estimates, its full-year outlook was shy of estimates.
Also, Caterpillar (CAT: 52.11, -3.73, -6.68%) exceeded expectations with EPS of 36 cents but its stock dove 4% as its sales of $7.9 billion missed estimates and its 2010 EPS outlook was also short of consensus forecasts. Manufacturing giant United Technologies (UTX: 67.01, -1.52, -2.22%) topped estimates by a penny with EPS of $1.15 and reaffirmed its 2010 outlook.
Housing-sensitive stocks like Home Depot (HD: 27.75, 0.01, 0.04%) and Pulte Homes (PHM: 10.1499, -0.2101, -2.03%) could be moved by the Commerce Department’s 10 a.m. EST report on new home sales. Analysts forecast sales jumped 4.2% last month to an annualized rate of 370,000 units.
Traders will be keeping an eye on Apple, which just two days after blowing away earnings expectations is expected to unveil a tablet computer-like device at about 1 p.m. EST. While the tech company has been tight-lipped on the device and hasn’t even acknowledged its existence, some are already predicting it will revolutionize the publishing business the way Apple’s iPod transformed the digital music industry.
Overshadowed on Wednesday is the policy statement from the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy arm, which is due out at about 2:15 p.m. EST. There’s no expectation the central bank will boost rates from their historically-low levels but the Fed could hint at when it will begin to soak up the flood of cash in the system.
Wall Street will be watching to see what policy initiatives Obama unveils during Wednesday’s night’s State of the Union and also for what tone he takes. A populist tone struck last week by the White House and efforts to reign in big banks helped slam the markets last week.
In the commodity markets, crude oil and gold headed south. Ahead of a key report on weekly inventories, crude fell 15 cents a barrel, or 0.19%, to $74.56. Gold lost $4.70 a troy ounce, or 0.43%, to $1094.80.
Toyota (TM: 80.52, -6.23, -7.18%) announced plans to halt sales and production on eight models due to lingering issues with sticking acceleration petals, an unprecedented move that sent the Japanese automaker's stock down 5%. The models represent more than half of Toyota's sales each year. Toyota is also halting production of its best-selling Camry during the fist week of February.
United Airlines parent UAL Corp. (UAUA: 12.5, -0.29, -2.27%) reported an adjusted-loss of $1.05 a share, better than the $1.47-a-share loss that analysts were looking for. Revenue rose by a better-than-expected 8% to $4.19 billion.
Yahoo!'s (YHOO: 16.2, 0.21, 1.31%) stock jumped 3% a day after the Internet portal and search company swung to an in-line profit of 11 cents a share but stronger-than-expected non-GAAP revenue of $1.26 billion. Yahoo! said demand for advertising is picking up again.
Valero (VLO: 18.93, -0.09, -0.47%) beat the Street with a non-GAAP loss of 28 cents a share, compared to estimates for a loss of 49 cents, but the largest U.S. refiner slashed its dividend by 75% amid “difficult industry conditions.” Valero’s revenue of $18.9 billion also exceeded estimates.
BlackRock (BLK: 224.73, -0.22, -0.1%) posted a non-GAAP profit of $2.39 a share, easily exceeding the Street’s view of $2.10 thanks to its acquisition of Barclays Global Investors. The world’s largest asset manager’s revenue soared 45% to $1.54 billion, compared to analysts’ forecasts for $1.25 billion.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.71% to 5239.57, France's CAC 40 was down 0.73% to 3779.12 and Germany's DAXsank 0.33% to 5650.16.
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.71% to 10252.08, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.38% to 20033.07 and China's Shanghai Composite close down 1.09% to 2986.61.