The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) is following its overseas brethren into the red ahead of the bell, as traders exercise caution amid escalating tension in Ukraine. In related news, Russia's central bank hiked its key lending rate, and Standard & Poor's axed the country's debt rating to one level above junk status. On the home front, meanwhile, a weaker-than-expected earnings showing from Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is overshadowing a well-received quarterly report from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and speculators will soon digest monthly sentiment data from Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan.
"Despite blowout earnings from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), the Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX) failed to hold above the 3,600 level I mentioned yesterday," said Schaeffer's Senior Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp. "The next couple of days could prove to be critical in regards to the next bigger move for markets, and bulls will certainly want to see this area hold."
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) are nearly 70 points below breakeven.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,258,327 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 767,066 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio fell to 0.61, while the 21-day moving average remained at 0.58.
From the Trading Floor
"Yesterday's National Association of Active Investment Managers (NAAIM) and American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) polls showed some upticks in bullishness, but current levels are way off this year's highs," commented Sapp. "The bar remains very low for this market, even after the recent move back near all-time highs. This creates the potential for upside surprises going forward."
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Earnings and Economic Data
The final reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for April will hit the Street on Friday. Closing out the week's earnings lineup are F, Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Covidien (COV), Moody's (MCO), Tyco International (TYC), VF Corp (VFC), Weyerhaeuser (WY), and Whirlpool (WHR).
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