OVERNIGHT MARKETS AND NEWS
March E-mini S&Ps (ESH15 +0.24%) this morning are up +0.29% at a contract high, while European stocks are down -0.91% as a slide in health-care companies leads the overall market lower. The Russian ruble strengthened to just below 60 per dollar on signs of a short-term cash crunch as the Bank of Russia provided 488 billion rubles ($8.1 billion) at a special repurchase auction of 3-day cash after the rate banks charge each other for overnight funds soared to an 8-year high of 27.3% yesterday. Asian stocks closed higher: Japan +2.39%, Hong Kong +1.25%, China +1.11%, Taiwan +1.36%, Australia +2.45%, Singapore +1.11%, South Korea +1.70%, India +0.90%. China's Shanghai Stock Index climbed to a 4-year high as airlines and shipping companies rallied on optimism that the plunge in oil prices will lower their costs and boost their profits. Commodity prices are mostly higher. Jan crude oil (CLF15 +1.61%) is up +1.74%. Jan gasoline (RBF15 +1.38%) is up +1.56%. Feb gold (GCG15 +0.15%) is up +0.18%. Mar copper (HGH15 +1.33%) is up +1.14%. Agriculture prices are weaker. The dollar index (DXY00 +0.16%) is up +0.19% at a 1-1/2 week high. EUR/USD (^EURUSD) is down -0.19% at a 1-1/2 week low. USD/JPY (^USDJPY) is up +0.40% at a 1-week high after the BOJ maintained record stimulus following its 2-day policy meeting. Mar T-note prices (ZNH15 -0.02%) are up +1.5 ticks.
German Jan GfK consumer confidence rose +0.3 to 9.0, better than expectations of +0.1 to 8.8 and the highest in 8 years.
German Nov PPI was unch m/m and fell -0.9% y/y, a slower pace of decline than expectations of -0.2% m/m and -1.1% y/y.
UK Dec GfK consumer confidence unexpectedly fell -3 to -4, weaker than expectations of +1 to -1 and the lowest in 9 months.
UK Dec CBI reported sales jumped +34 to 61, much better than expectations of +3 to 30 and the highest in 26 3/4 years.
UK Nov public sector net borrowing climbed +13.4 billion pounds, less than expectations of +14.8 billion pounds.
Japan Nov nationwide department store sales fell -1.0% y/y, a smaller decline than the -2.2% fall in Oct, but still the eighth consecutive month that sales have fallen.
The Japan Oct all-industry activity index unexpectedly fell -0.1%, weaker than expectations of unch m/m.
U.S. STOCK PREVIEWThere are no major U.S. economic reports today. There are 3 of the Russell 1000 companies that report earnings today: Paychex (consensus $0.47), CarMax (0.54), Carnival (0.21). There are no equity conferences today.
OVERNIGHT U.S. STOCK MOVERS
Unum Group (UNM +2.95%) was upgraded to 'Buy' from 'Neutral' at Compass Point.
CVS Health (CVS +1.43%) was upgraded to 'Buy' from 'Neutral' at SunTrust.
BlackBerry (BBRY +0.90%) fell 6% n pre-market trading after it reported Q3 EPS of 1 cent, better than consensus of a -5 cent loss, but Q3 revenue of $793 million was below consensus of $931.53 million
Walgreen (WAG +3.32%) was downgraded to 'Neutral' from 'Buy' at SunTrust.
Reuters reports that Google's (GOOG +1.23%) next version of Android will be built directly into cars.
D. E. Shaw Kalon Portfolios reported a 5% passive stake in PBF Energy (PBF -2.90%) .
Anadarko (APC +3.07%) was initiated with a 'Buy' at Guggenheim with a price target of $89.
Cintas (CTAS +2.27%) reported Q2 continuing operating EPS of 86 cents, well above consensus of 78 cents, and then raised guidance on fiscal 2015 EPS ex-items to $3.20-$3.25, higher than consensus of $3.15.
Nike (NKE +2.73%) reported Q2 EPS of 74 cents, stronger than consensus of 70 cents.
Gabelli reported a 5.09% stake in Protective Life (PL -0.09%) .
Red Hat (RHT +3.40%) rose over 8% in after-hours trading after it reported Q3 EPS of 42 cents, higher than consensus of 40 cents, and then raised guidance on fiscal 2015 EPS to $1.57-$1.58, better than consensus of $1.55.
AAR Corp. (AIR +3.51%) reported Q2 EPS of 38 cents, better than consensus of 37 cents.
Pier 1 Imports (PIR -0.07%) reported Q3 EPS of 20 cents, right on consensus, although Q3 revenue $484.5 million was below consensus of $488.26 million.
iRobot (IRBT +1.71%) was initiated with an 'Overweight' at Piper Jaffray witha price target of $42.
Mar E-mini S&Ps (ESH15 +0.24%) this morning are up +6.00 points (+0.29%) at a contract high. The S&P 500 index on Thursday posted a 1-1/2 week high and settled sharply higher: S&P 500 +2.40%, Dow Jones +2.43%, Nasdaq +2.47%. Bullish factors included (1) carry-over support from Wednesday’s FOMC meeting statement where the Fed said it will be “patient” in its approach to raising interest rates, and (2) the unexpected -6,000 drop in weekly U.S. jobless claims, better than expectations of +1,000 to 295,000.
Mar 10-year T-notes (ZNH15 -0.02%) this morning are up +1.5 ticks. Mar 10-year T-note futures prices on Thursday fell to a 1-week low and closed lower: TYH5 -15.00, FVH5 -6.25. Bearish factors included (1) the unexpected -6,000 decline in U.S. weekly initial unemployment claims to a 6-week low, and (2) reduced safe-haven demand after stocks rallied.
The dollar index (DXY00 +0.16%) this morning is up +0.166 (+0.19%) at a 1-1/2 week high. EUR/USD (^EURUSD) is down -0.0023 (-0.19%) at a 1-1/2 week low. USD/JPY (^USDJPY) is up +0.48 (+0.40%) at a 1-week high. The dollar index on Thursday climbed to a 1-week high and closed higher. Closes: Dollar index +0.102 (+0.11%), EUR/USD -0.00556 (-0.45%), USD/JPY +0.193 (+0.16%). Bullish factors included (1) carry-over support from Wednesday’s post-FOMC meeting statement that signaled the Fed could raise interest rates as soon as April’s FOMC meeting, and (2) weakness in EUR/USD which fell to a 1-week low after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) introduced negative interest rates to defend the currency cap on the Swiss franc, which bolstered speculation the ECB will expand stimulus to include quantitative easing as the SNB’s action for negative rates will start on Jan 22, the same day as the next ECB policy meeting.
Jan WTI crude oil (CLF15 +1.61%) this morning is up +94 cents (+1.74%) and Jan gasoline (RBF15 +1.38%) is up +0.0239 (+1.56%). Jan crude and Jan gasoline prices Thursday closed lower. Closes: CLF5 -2.36 (-4.18%), RBF5 -0.0390 (-2.49%). Bearish factors included (1) the rally in the dollar index to a 1-week high, and (2) concern that the supply glut in global crude supplies will persist after Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said that Saudi Arabia and OPEC would find it “difficult, if not impossible” to give up market share by cutting crude production.
GLOBAL EVENT CALENDAR12/19/2014
U.S. STOCK CALENDAR12/19/2014