The major Wall Street averages continue to re-write the record book, with the Dow and S&P 500 once again closing at all-time highs, and the S&P and Nasdaq both chalking up their 16th gain in 19 sessions. One sign of a possible market reversal comes from the fact that 187 new 52-week highs were registered in the S&P 500 Wednesday, the most in at least three years. A sustained level of new highs above 100 has historically preceded market reversals of varying magnitudes.
It's an extremely busy day for economic numbers, with three key reports out simultaneously at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Labor Department's weekly look at initial jobless claims is expected to show new claims of 330,000 for the week ending May 11 compared to 323,000 the prior week. The April Consumer Price Index is seen dropping 0.3 percent compared to a March decline of 0.2 percent, while April housing starts are expected to fall 6.4 percent compared to a 7.0 percent rise in March.
At 10 a.m. ET, economists expect the May Philadelphia Fed index to come in at 2.0, a slight improvement over April's 1.3.
At 10:30 a.m. ET, the Energy Department will issue its weekly look at natural gas inventories.
Retailers are prominent among today's earnings reports, with Dow component Wal-Mart (WMT) and rival retailer Kohl's (KSS) set to issue quarterly earnings this morning, and J.C. Penney (JCP) and Nordstrom (JWN) set for after-the-bell releases. This afternoon's reports will also include the latest numbers from Dell (DELL), Autodesk (ADSK), and Applied Materials (AMAT).
Cisco Systems (CSCO) is among our stocks to watch this morning, with Cisco reporting fiscal third quarter profit of $0.51 per share, two cents above estimates, while revenue exceeded forecasts as well. Cisco registered improved sales in both hardware and services, despite slower spending by customers.
Tesla Motors (TSLA) has announced a secondary offering of 2.7 million shares of common stock as well as convertible notes, as it raises money to pay an Energy Department loan. The offering would raise more than $229 million at current prices. The automaker's CEO, Elon Musk, will buy about $45 million in stock from that offering, as well as another $55 million in shares in a separate deal.
Oil States International (OIS) has a new nearly 5 percent stakeholder in David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital, with Einhorn saying last week the company was a target for shareholder activism. The stake was disclosed in a quarterly 13F filing with the SEC.
Herbalife (HLF) saw Daniel Loeb's Third Point exit its stake, according to Third Point's latest 13F filing. It had owned 3.1 million shares and 200,000 call options.
Morgan Stanley (MS) is also no longer among Third Point's holdings, after the fund manager had held at least 7.8 million shares previously.
Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI) is a new investment of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), with Berkshire's 13F filing revealing a $404 million investment in the engineering company.
Potash (POT) is hiking its quarterly dividend by 25 percent to $0.35 per share, payable on August 2.
Actavis (ACT) continues to be a potential takeover target, with Dow Jones reporting that Novartis (NVS) is now considering a possible bid for the generic drugmaker. Both Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) and Mylan (MYL) have been rebuffed after approaching Actavis about a possible deal.
Dow Chemical (DOW) has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.2 billion in a price fixing case involving chemicals used to make foam products. Dow plans to appeal the ruling.
Boeing (BA) and General Electric (GE) are alerting airlines about a potential engine problem in Boeing's 777 jet. The airlines are being asked to inspect or replace a transfer gear box made for GE by Italy's Avio.
Google's (GOOG) YouTube could be a $20 billion per year business by 2020, according to a new research note by Morgan Stanley. The calculation is based on YouTube's current share of the video advertising market and the ongoing expansion of that market.
Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook will speak to a Senate hearing next Tuesday, centering on offshore profits and the U.S. tax code. Apple and many others have kept overseas profits out of the U.S. to avoid taxation.