Wall Street's Wednesday rally continues a recent theme of inconsistency: the major averages have split the last six sessions between gains and losses, and if the Dow and S&P 500 cannot erase this week's losses over the next two sessions, they'll have alternated between weekly gains and losses for six consecutive weeks.
There are several economic reports for investors to consider this morning, including two labor-related sets of data. The Labor Department is out with its weekly look at initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. New York time, with economists looking for 368,000 new claims for the week ending January 4. That would be a drop of 4,000 from the prior week. Labor will also issue its monthly JOLTS report for November - a look at job opportunities and labor turnover - and 10 a.m.
The government also issues November wholesale inventories at 10 a.m., with consensus forecasts calling for a rise of 0.3 percent following October's 0.6 percent increase. And at 10:30 a.m., the Energy Department is out with its weekly look at natural gas inventories.
The Treasury will sell $13 billion in 30-year bonds, with the results of that sale available shortly after 1 p.m.
The European Central Bank may draw the most attention in the early morning hours, as it issues its latest interest rate decision at 7:45 a.m. Many economists expect the ECB to hold rates steady at the current record low 0.75 percent, but a growing number think the ECB may cut, in hopes of boosting the euro zone economy. The Bank of England is expected to stand pat on rates and on stimulus when it releases its latest statement at 7 a.m.
St. Jude Medical (STJ) is a stock to watch this morning, as the medical products maker raises its current quarter EPS outlook to $0.90 - $0.92, compared to Street estimates of $0.87. The company credits solid sales and the positive effects of cost-cutting.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will take a $700 million charge against fourth quarter profit for its portion of a federal mortgage foreclosure settlement. As part of that deal, the bank will pay $753 million into a fund to reimburse affected borrowers.
Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook met with the chairman of top China wireless carrier China Mobile in Shanghai, to discuss what the company calls "matters of cooperation". No details were given, but the meeting is raising hopes that Apple may finally strike an iPhone carriage deal with China Mobile.
ArcelorMittal (MT) was able to raise $4 billion in a stock and convertible note offering, despite its "junk" level credit rating. The steelmaker had expected to raise $3.5 billion in the offering, which is intended to pare down the company's debt.
Deutsche Bank (DB) made about $654 million in profits from bets on Libor and other global interest rates in 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal. That comes amid the ongoing Libor-rigging probe that's already resulted in settlements with Barclays and UBS.
Clearwire (CLWR) remains on our watch list, as investors wonder whether Sprint Nextel (S) will improve its $2 billion bid to beat a subsequent higher bid by Dish Network (DISH).