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New month, same questions for US investors


U.S. stocks come off a mixed session in which the Federal Reserve provided little new information about any plans to pull back from its accommodative monetary policy stance. Nonetheless, July concluded with strong gains for the major averages, with the S&P 500 narrowly missing its best gain since October 2011.


With the next Fed meeting still more than a month away, investors will refocus on economic numbers, with a busy calendar today ahead of tomorrow's widely anticipated July jobs report. At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Labor Department is expected to report initial jobless claims of 345,000 for last week, up 2,000 from the prior week.


At 10 a.m. ET, the Institute For Supply Management will issue its July Manufacturing Index, seen coming in at 52.0, up from 50.9 in June. At the same time, the government is out with June construction spending figures, with consensus forecasts calling for a 0.3 percent increase following May's rise of 0.5 percent.


U.S. automakers will be issuing their July sales numbers throughout the morning, with Edmunds.com predicting an industry sales increase of 15.2 percent compared to July of 2012.


At 10:30 a.m. ET, the Energy Department will be out with its weekly assessment of natural gas inventories.


The Bank of England (7 a.m. ET) and the European Central Bank (7:45 a.m. ET) are both out with interest rate decisions and monetary policy statements this morning.


Dow components Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Procter & Gamble (PG) lead this morning's list of corporate earnings reports. Also out this morning: ADP (ADP), Avon Products (AVP), Becton Dickinson (BDX), Cardinal Health (CAH), Cigna (CI), Clorox (CLX), Kellogg (K), Mylan (MYL), and Time Warner Cable (TWC). AIG (AIG), Activision Blizzard (ATVI), Kraft Foods (KRFT), and Weight Watchers (WTW) are among the companies set to issue quarterly numbers after the closing bell.


CBS (CBS) is among our stocks to watch, reporting second quarter profit of 76 cents per share, four cents above estimates, with revenue beating consensus as well. An increase in online revenue was among the factors helping the company's bottom line.


Whole Foods (WFM) beat estimates by a penny with fiscal third quarter profit of 38 cents per share. Investors, however, are focusing on sales growth that was weaker than had been expected.


DreamWorks Animation (DWA) posted second quarter profit of 26 cents per share, six cents above estimates, with the movie studio's revenue topping estimates by a wide margin. The single biggest factor during the quarter was the success of the animated movie "The Croods"..


Yelp (YELP) lost one cent per share for the second quarter, smaller than the four cent loss expected by Wall Street. The reviews web site operator was helped by better mobile advertising results.


Allstate (ALL) earned $1.12 per share, excluding certain items, for the second quarter, 14 cents above estimates, with revenue topping consensus as well. The insurance company saw fewer catastrophe losses and higher premium income during the quarter.


MetLife (MET) reported second quarter profit of $1.44 per share, excluding certain items, 11 cents above estimates, though revenue was shy of consensus.


Shutterfly (SFLY) lost 29 cents per share for the second quarter, far smaller than the 54 cent forecast by analysts, with revenue beating consensus. The online photo service benefited from a greater number of orders during Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduations.


Boston Beer (SAM) topped estimates by 11 cents in reporting second quarter profit of $1.45 per share, with revenue above estimates as well. The beer brewer raised its full year outlook as well on improved sales.


Marriott (MAR) matched estimates with second quarter profit of 57 cents per share, with revenue topping estimates on higher room rates. But the hotel operator's current quarter forecast is shy of consensus.


Pilgrim's Price (PPC) earned 74 cents per share for the second quarter, 17 cents above estimates. The poultry producer saw stronger sales during the quarter as well as higher profit margins.