Stock index futures are pointing to a higher U.S. opening this morning, after the S&P 500 broke a five-day winning streak on Wednesday and also ended a four-day streak of setting record highs. The Dow and the S&P 500 are still slightly positive for the week ahead of the Thursday session, and would chalk up their third consecutive weekly gains if they can end the week higher.
Economic reports today include the Labor Department's weekly look at initial jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are looking for claims of 341,000, down from 358,000 the prior week. Labor will also issue its "JOLTS" report, the monthly look at Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover.
At 10 a.m. ET, the government is out with September new home sales, with consensus forecasts looking for a 2.1 percent increase to an annual rate of 430,000 units. In August, new home sales had jumped 7.9 percent.
The Energy Department will be out with its weekly assessment of natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Today is a busy one for corporate earnings reports, with Dow component 3M (MMM) and automaker Ford (F) leading this morning's list of releases. We'll also hear from AutoNation (AN), Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Diamond Offshore (DO), Dow Chemical (DOW), Starwood Hotels (HOT), Hershey (HSY), International Paper (IP), Southwest Air, McKesson, Mead Johnson (MJN), Altria (MO), PulteGroup (PHM), Royal Caribbean (RCL), Raytheon (RTN), and Xerox (XRX). Amazon.com (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) are among those with after-the-bell releases.
Visa (V) is among our stocks to watch today, as the credit card network operator raises its quarterly dividend by 21 percent to $0.40 per share.
AT&T (T) reported quarterly profit of 66 cents per share, excluding certain items, a penny above estimates, with revenues in line. Wireless revenue grew by 3.7 percent, compared to 4.4 percent in the same quarter a year ago.
Akamai Technologies (AKAM) earned 50 cents per share, excluding certain items, for the third quarter, beating estimates by four cents, with revenue also above consensus. The internet technology provider also saw an increase in operating margins, on increasing market demand for online content. But Akamai also gave current quarter guidance below consensus, as it renegotiates an expiring contract with one of its biggest customers, which it declined to name.
F5 Networks (FFIV) reported fiscal fourth quarter profit of $1.26 per share, excluding certain items, seven cents above estimates, with revenue also beating forecasts. However, the maker of network gear also gave a current quarter earnings forecast largely below estimates, and said its margins will be impacted on increasing investments in its consulting business.
Symantec (SYMC) reported fiscal second quarter profit of 50 cents per share, excluding certain items, six cents above estimates. The provider of anti-virus software gave a current quarter forecast below Street consensus, however, as the PC market weakens.
Citrix Systems (CTXS) earned 70 cents per share, excluding certain items, for the third quarter, one cent above estimates. The provider of cloud computing services, however, gave a current quarter forecast below estimates, pointing to "cautious" customer spending.
Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) earned 52 cents per share for the third quarter, excluding certain items, matching estimates, though revenue was slightly above consensus. Same store sales were up 0.8 percent, but CEO David Overton said the restaurant chain is still increasing its market share.
Angie's List (ANGI) lost 23 cents per share for the third quarter, a loss that was three cents wider than anticipated. The online review company's current quarter revenue guidance is below analyst forecasts, as membership renewal rates fall.
Varian Medical (VAR) fell short of estimates by four cents with fourth quarter profit of $1.08 per share. Revenue and the medical device maker's current quarter forecast are below consensus as well, with the company citing the possible impact of health care reform and reimbursement rate changes.
McKesson (MCK) agreed to buy German drug distributor Celesio for $8.3 billion. McKesson is the largest U.S. drug wholesaler.
Consolidated Graphics (CGX) is being bought by RR Donnelley (RRD) for $620 million in cash and stock. Consolidated Graphics, based in Houston, is a provider of printing services.
BlackBerry (BBRY) has a possible new suitor, as the Toronto Globe and Mail reports former Apple CEO John Sculley is exploring the idea of a joint bid for the company.