Stocks Signal Positive Open as Economic Data Rolls In

Nike will report earnings after the close

Dec 21, 2017 at 9:04 AM
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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures are trading above fair value this morning, as stocks try to again build momentum following yesterday's tax bill passage. The attention could stay on Capitol Hill, however, as lawmakers are reportedly struggling to approve a spending bill to avert a government shutdown this weekend.

Investors are also digesting economic data. Specifically, weekly jobless claims this morning came in higher than expected, and the final reading on third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was lowered slightly to 3.2% -- but the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey topped expectations. Meanwhile, after the close, Dow stock Nike (NKE) will be in the earnings spotlight.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

  • Call buyers are eating up this sizzling fast food stock.
  • How put traders are playing United Continental stock.
  • The biotech stock named a "top pick" at Credit Suisse.
  • Plus, Bed Bath & Beyond falls again; Wal-Mart's latest move to compete with Amazon; and Accenture stock eyes fresh highs.

stocks today

5 Things You Need to Know Today

  1. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 852,844 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 474,158 put contracts. The single-session equity put/call ratio ticked up to 0.56, while the 21-day moving average stayed at 0.57.
  2. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY) topped earnings expectations for the third quarter, but the stock is set to lose 5.6% at the open nonetheless. Analysts are citing margin concerns, with Barclays dropping its price target to $25 from $30. Still, this is above last night's close of $24.57 for BBBY stock.
  3. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) could get a boost today, thanks to news the company is developing stores that wouldn't need cashiers. Rival Amazon.com (AMZN) has already made a public push to create stores where consumers can grab an item and simply walk out. At $98.75, WMT shares are sitting just below the Nov. 17 record high of $100.13.
  4. Consulting firm Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN) is set to add 2.3% at the open, which could push the stock into record-high territory, thanks to the company's better-than-expected earnings report. The stock was already up nearly 30% this year and hit an all-time peak of $153.75 on Dec. 18.
  5. CarMax (KMX) and Cintas (CTAS) will also report earnings.

Stocks on the move for Dec 21

Overseas Trading

Asian markets settled on both sides of breakeven today, after U.S. legislators passed the GOP tax bill. Chinese stocks outperformed, as some of the Beijing's top leaders reiterated support for economic growth and structural reform at the annual Central Economic Work Conference. At the close, China's Shanghai Composite was up 0.4%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.5% higher. On the flip side, South Korea's Kospi plunged 1.7% as Samsung Electronics sold off, and Japan's Nikkei fell 0.1% after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) held steady on interest rates as expected.
 
Most European stocks are little changed at midday, as traders keep a close eye on an election over Catalonia, Spain, where voters will choose a new general assembly following October's controversial secession referendum. Most recently, the French CAC 40 was trading up 0.03%, while the German DAX was down 0.01%. The London FTSE 100, meanwhile, is up 0.4%, as the pound cooled following data that showed consumer confidence in Britain dropped to a four-year low in December.


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