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U.S. stocks are sitting slightly below breakeven this afternoon, as traders digest earnings from a handful of notables, and await tomorrow morning's release of September's nonfarm payrolls report. The always important data point was initially delayed due to the government shutdown. Among equities in focus are Dow component General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), car concern Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), and yoga apparel maker Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU).
- General Electric's well-received earnings report on Friday prompted a round of upbeat brokerage notes from the likes of Morgan Stanley and UBS, which raised their respective price targets. Additionally, Citigroup added the stock to its "U.S. focus list." The equity has benefited from this attention today, and is up 2.5% at $26.20, after earlier hitting a fresh five-year high of $26.35. In the months leading up to the company's quarterly report, it was all about calls in General Electric Company's (NYSE:GE) options pits. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 4.17 ranks just 4 percentage points from a 52-week peak. In other words, calls have been bought to open over puts at a near-annual-high clip.
- Elsewhere, J.P. Morgan Securities upped its price target on Ford Motor by $2 to $23 ahead of the bell, but the stock has failed to capitalize on this bullish brokerage note. At last check, the security was down 0.4% at $17.46. From a longer-term technical perspective, F has done well on the charts, and has tacked on around 35% year-to-date. Off the charts, the Detroit darling is slated to unveil its third-quarter earnings report ahead of the bell on Thursday. Ford Motor Company's (NYSE:F) Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.65 ranks in the 69th percentile of its annual range, suggesting short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual leading into the company's scheduled announcement.
- Lululemon Athletica is also trading lower, despite an early morning upgrade. Baird boosted its price target for the stock by $9 to $87, yet the equity has shed 1.5% today to linger near $71.65. Technically, LULU has added around 20% since hitting an annual low of $59.60 in June; however, the sentiment backdrop surrounding the security remains skeptically skewed. Among covering analysts, about 62% maintain a "hold" or worse suggestion toward LULU, while the consensus 12-month price target of $74.50 is a slim 4% premium to present trading levels. Plus, short interest accounts for 15% of the stock's available float.