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Today's Primer Post

Friday, 8 Feb 2013 | 5:50 AM ET

As investors await a Northeast storm, U.S. stocks are coming off a negative day with some positive momentum. An early Thursday selloff saw the Dow slide as many as 134 points, but some late day buying cut the deficit to 42 points. Nonetheless, the major averages remain in danger of posting their first losing week of 2013.


Two economic reports are on the agenda for this morning, beginning with the December trade deficit at 8:30 a.m. New York time. Economists are looking for a shortfall of $45.4 billion, compared to the $48.7 billion registered in November. At 10 a.m., economists are expecting a 0.5 percent increase in December wholesale trade, following a 0.6 percent increase in December.


Moody's (MCO) leads a relatively short list of companies set to report earnings this morning, along with AOL (AOL), Lab Corp. (LH), Apollo Global Management (APO), and Entergy (ETR).


Boeing (BA) leads our list of stocks to watch, as the FAA gives the company permission to perform test flights on its 787 jets. Boeing plans to perform in-flight testing of the jet's lithium ion batteries to determine the cause of recent issues that resulted in the grounding of all 787s.


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) earned $0.78 per share for the fourth quarter, six cents above estimates. Revenue was also above consensus, thanks in part to strong sales of its "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" video game. But Activision also warned that 2013 may present some short term challenges, as it invests in new game franchises, and as sales across the industry fall as gamers wait for new consoles to be released.


Hasbro (HAS) reported fourth quarter profit of $1.20 per share, excluding certain items, one cent above estimates. The toy maker says a cautious retail environment hurt its results, with poor sales in Europe impacting overall results during the key holiday season.


Coinstar (CSTR) earned $0.93 per share for the fourth quarter, excluding certain items, 20 cents above estimates. However, revenue was below consensus, as is its earnings and revenue projections from the current quarter. The operator of the Redbox video rental service says a slower movie release schedule is a key reason for that forecast.


RadioShack (RSH) has named former Duane Reade president Joseph Magnacca as its new chief executive officer. Magnacca had been serving as the head of Walgreen's Daily Living Products unit since Duane Reade was acquired by Walgreen in 2010.


PVH (PVH) and Big Lots (BIG) are switching S&P indexes, with clothing maker PVH going to the S&P 500, and retailer Big Lots taking PVH's spot in the S&P MidCap 400. The date of the switch has not yet been determined, but the move is being made because of Big Lots' drop in market cap to below the $2 billion mark, while PVH will grow through its purchase of Warnaco Group.


McGraw-Hill (MHP) is seeing its credit rating downgraded by Fitch to BBB from A-, and placed on negative watch, following the government lawsuit against its Standard & Poor's unit over financial crisis-era ratings.


Skullcandy (SKUL) CEO Jeremy Andrus is stepping down to move to a private investment firm. Founder and former CEO Rick Alden will replace Andrus on an interim basis while the headphone maker searches for a successor.


OpenTable (OPEN) reported fourth quarter profit of $0.46 per share, excluding certain items, three cents above estimates. The online reservation service saw a 22 percent increase in the number of seated diners during the quarter compared to a year earlier, and it also expects more revenue from mobile-oriented reservations.


Nuance Communications (NUAN) earned $0.35 per share for its first quarter, one cent below estimates, and is projecting second quarter revenue below consensus as well. The maker of speech recognition software cites dropping demand in its Europe, Middle East, and African markets.


Charter Communications (CHTR) is buying Optimum West from Cablevision (CVS) for $1.625 billion. Optimum West is an operator of cable systems in four western states with more than 300 thousand video subscribers.