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Today's Primer Post

U.S. stocks are headed for a sharply lower open this morning, after House Speaker John Boehner's so-called "Plan B" tax bill failed to attract enough GOP support to bring it to a vote. With lawmakers now departing for the Christmas holiday, the perception among investors is that a fiscal cliff deal is now less likely before the end of the year.


Though today's economic stats will likely not be enough to distract Wall Street from fiscal cliff-related distress, a handful of key reports are out this morning. Economists predict November personal income will be up 0.4 percent following an unchanged reading in October, while consumer spending is seen rising 0.3 percent from the prior month's drop of 0.2 percent. November durable goods orders are likely to fall 0.2 percent, according to consensus forecasts, after a 0.5 percent increase in October. All of those numbers will be out at 8:30 a.m. New York time.


At 9:55 a.m., the University of Michigan's final December consumer sentiment index is expected to rise to 75.0 from the preliminary reading of 74.5. However, that's still well below the final November figure of 82.7.


Walgreen (WAG) is the only company of note on the earnings calendar this morning, with the drug store operator expected to report fiscal first quarter profit of $0.70 per share on revenues of $17.43 billion.


Research In Motion (RIMM) leads our list of stocks to watch, reporting a third quarter loss of $0.22. That was smaller than the expected loss of $0.35 per share, with revenues essentially in line with estimates. However, the stock is under pressure after the BlackBerry maker reported a drop in subscriber rolls for the first time in its history. It also worried investors during a conference call in saying it plans to alter its service revenue model.


Nokia (NOK) has settled a patent dispute with RIM that gives it an undisclosed one-time payment during the fourth quarter as well as ongoing fees.


Red Hat (RHT) reported third quarter profit of $0.29 per share, in line with estimates, with revenues exceeding estimates. The provider of Linux software saw strong growth in its subscription business.


Nike (NKE) earned $1.14 per share for its second quarter, 14 cents above estimates, with revenues in line. Gross margins fell for the eighth straight quarter, but that streak could end soon based on the athletic footwear and apparel maker's current financial projections.


Micron (MU) lost $0.27 per share for its first quarter, seven cents wider than analysts had anticipated. Revenue also came in below consensus as the chipmaker suffered the effects of slowing personal computer sales and overall economic uncertainty.


SanDisk (SNDK) has expanded its stock repurchase program by an additional $750 million, bringing the flash memory chip maker's total current buyback program to $1.25 billion.


AbbVie (ABBV) will replace Dell (DELL) in the S&P 100 and Federated Investors (FII) in the S&P 500 after the close of trading next Monday. AbbVie is a spinoff from Abbott Labs (ABT).


Facebook's (FB) Instagram unit has reverted to its prior wording in its privacy policy, after an outcry over a change that many consumers thought gave Instagram the right to sell their photos. Instagram had said that was not true, but has changed the language back. Separately, Facebook is testing a fee to have messages sent to non-friends show up in that person's inbox.


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