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Today's Primer Post

Thursday, 17 Jan 2013 | 6:08 AM ET


U.S. stocks continue to run in place, with Wednesday marking the fifth consecutive session of very little movement. Other than the Dow's 0.6 percent gain on January 10th, the major averages have barely moved at all, with the S&P 500 registering two virtually unchanged sessions over that time.


It's another busy day for economic numbers, with two high-profile reports out at 8:30 a.m. New York time. The Labor Department's weekly initial jobless claims report is expected to show first-time claims of 370,000, down slightly from the prior week's 371,000. Economists expect December housing starts to register a 2.8 percent rise to an annual rate of 885,000 units, with building permits rising by 0.6 percent.


At 10 a.m., the widely followed Philadelphia Fed index is seen rising to 6.0 for January from December's 4.6.


Financials dominate this morning's earnings reports, when we'll see the latest numbers from Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), BlackRock (BLK), BB&T (BBT), Fifth Third (FITB), PNC Bank (PNC), and Huntington Bancshares (HBAN). Dow component UnitedHealth (UNH) is also out with quarterly numbers this morning.


It's also a busy day for after-the-bell earnings, with reports due from Dow components American Express (AXP) and Intel (INTC), as well as Capital One (COF) and Xilinx (XLNX).


eBay (EBAY) leads our list of stocks to watch, after reporting fourth quarter profit of $0.70 per share, one cent above estimates. However, eBay's current quarter EPS and revenue forecasts fall below estimates. Many analysts had expected a more upbeat forecast given a boom in mobile shopping and a substantial increase in the number of transactions processed by the company's PayPal unit.


Boeing (BA) is likely to be under pressure once again, as the FAA grounds its 787 jets while a battery issue is being investigated. Airlines in other countries are grounding the jets as well pending the outcome.


Oneok (OKE) has increased its quarterly dividend by three cents per share to $0.36. The energy producer's dividend is payable Feburary 14 to shareholders of record as of January 31.


Williams-Sonoma (WSM) reports a 4.8 percent increase in same-store holiday season sales, and the retailer is also reiterating its prior fourth quarter and fiscal year guidance.


CBS (CBS) is seeking to divest its outdoor ad businesses in Europe and Asia, and will convert its Americas outdoor division into a real estate investment trust. This comes after the company announced in November that it was considering options for those units.


Investor Carl Icahn has reportedly joined the battle over Herbalife (HLF) by taking a small stake, according to the Wall Street Journal. Herbalife has come under intense focus since investor Bill Ackman announced a 20 million share short bet against Herbalife, calling the company "a pyramid scheme".


Rio Tinto (RIO) has fired chief executive Tom Albanese, and said it was taking a $14 billion writedown of the value of Albanese's two biggest acquisitions.


Kellogg (K) is being sued by a subsidiary of Mondelez International, the recent Kraft Foods spinoff, which claims Kellogg is making improper use of its patents for packaging in its Keebler and Sandies cookies.