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Today's Primer Post

The Dow's march towards 14,000 has been interrupted, as it comes off just its third loss in 15 sessions. The S&P's drop Wednesday was just its second down day in 11 trading days, as investors look ahead to key economic data, including tomorrow's January employment report.


Today's batch of economic data includes the Labor Department's weekly look at initial jobless claims, seen rising from last week's more than 5-year lows. Consensus forecasts call for claims of 370,000, up from the prior week's 330,000. Economists also expect December personal income to register a rise of 0.8 percent following November's 0.6 percent increase, and consumer spending to rise 0.3 percent after November's 0.4 percent jump. Both reports are out at 8:30 a.m. New York time.


The widely followed Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for January is out at 9:45 a.m. with forecasts calling for a return to growth at a reading of 50.3 compared to December's 48.9.


The Energy Department will issue its weekly report on natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m.


Today marks the week's busiest day for corporate earnings. Included on this morning's schedule: Aetna (AET), AutoNation (AN), Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Dow Chemical (DOW), Hershey (HSY), MasterCard (MA), Altria (MO), Pitney Bowes (PBI), PulteGroup (PHM), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), Time Warner Cable (TWC), Under Armour (UA), UPS (UPS), Viacom (VIAB), and Whirlpool (WHR).


Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Chubb (CB), and Eastman Chemical (EMN) are among the companies set to release earnings after today's closing bell.


Facebook (FB) leads our list of stocks to watch, as the social network operator reports fourth quarter profit of $0.17 per share, two cents above estimates, with revenues slightly above consensus. Facebook also doubled its mobile advertising from the prior quarter, although that fell short of some of the most optimistic analyst estimates.


Qualcomm (QCOM) earned $1.26 per share for its fiscal first quarter, 13 cents above estimates, with revenues beating estimates as well. The chipmaker also issued better than expected guidance for the current quarter, as inventories have been built back up to sufficient levels following shortages last year.


Citrix Systems (CTXS) earned $0.90 per share for its fourth quarter, six cents better than consensus. Revenues were above estimates, as is the business software maker's revenue estimates for the current quarter. The upbeat report follows cautious comments back in October, when Citrix highlighted weak spending by the U.S. government and economic uncertainty in overseas markets.


Electronic Arts (EA) earned $0.57 per share for its third quarter, one cent above estimates, though revenue fell below forecasts. The videogame maker did forecast weaker than expected revenue for the current quarter, with EA noting weaker than expected sales of its "Medal of Honor: Warfighter" game and the end of the current console cycle.


Las Vegas Sands (LVS) earned $0.54 per share, excluding certain items, for its fourth quarter, five cents below estimates. But revenue beat forecasts, and growth in the China market more than made up for declines in Las Vegas and Singapore.


JDS Uniphase (JDSU) beat estimates by four cents for its second quarter with per-share earnings of $0.18. The maker of fiber optic components also saw revenue top estimates as well as a rise in profit margins.


Skyworks (SWKS) reported fiscal first quarter profit of $0.55, one cent above estimates, with revenues also above consensus. Skyworks, a supplier to Apple (AAPL), saw demand jump for its chips that are used to connect cellphones to networks.


ConocoPhillips (COP) earned $1.43 per share, excluding certain items, for the fourth quarter, one cent above estimates. The energy producer's profits did drop from the prior year on weaker oil and gas prices.


STMicroelectronics (STM) lost $0.11 per share for the fourth quarter, excluding certain items, a smaller loss than the $0.12 analysts were expecting. The chipmaker's revenue was essentially in line with estimates, though the company says it continues to see softness in the semiconductor market.


Diageo (DEO) says its net profits rose 61 percent for the six months ending December 31, thanks to higher prices and strong sales in America. Diageo is the maker of the Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, and Guinness alcoholic beverage brands.