U.S. stocks come off two days of relatively little movement ahead of some key events this week, most notably the October employment report on Friday, and a possible rate cut by the European Central Bank tomorrow. The Dow has risen a little less than three points over the past two days, while the S&P 500 is higher by a little more than a point.
The Conference Board is out with its September index of leading economic indicators at 10 a.m. ET. Economists are looking for a rise of 0.6 percent compared with an increase of 0.7 percent in August.
Other reports out today include the weekly look at mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association at 7 a.m. ET, and the Energy Department's usual Wednesday look at oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Corporate earnings reports out this morning include the latest numbers from Time Warner (TWX), Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Carlyle Group (CG), Duke Energy (DUK), Devon Energy (DVN), Duke Energy (DUK), Hospira (HSP), Humana (HUM), Marsh & McLennan (MMC), Ralph Lauren (RL), and Molson Coors (TAP). Videogame maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is among the companies scheduled for after-the-bell releases, along with Whole Foods (WFM), Qualcomm (QCOM), Transocean (RIG), Prudential Financial (PRU), Mondelez International (MDLZ), and CBS (CBS).
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) is among our stocks to watch today, as the retailer reported a 14 percent drop in comparable store sales for the third quarter, the seventh straight quarterly decline. Abercrombie also cut its full-year earnings per share guidance to $1.40 - $1.50 compared to analyst estimates of $1.96.
21st Century Fox (FOXA) earned 33 cents per share, excluding certain items, for its first quarter, two cents shy of estimates, though revenue was above consensus. The company's bottom line was impacted by launch costs for new cable networks. Earlier this year, the old News Corp. spun off publishing and other assets into a new company that took the News Corp. name, while the remaining assets were renamed 21st Century Fox.
Microsoft (MSFT) is said to have narrowed its short list of candidates to succeed CEO Steve Ballmer. Reuters reports Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop remain on the list.
Tesla (TSLA) earned 12 cents per share, excluding certain items, for the third quarter, one cent above estimates, while revenue was well above consensus. However, the automaker's 5,500 new car deliveries during the quarter was below what some analysts had anticipated.
Live Nation (LYV) reported third quarter revenue of $2.26 billion, above Street estimates, but profits were hurt by a $36 million loss on moves to extinguish debt. The concert promoter's top line has been benefiting from increased ticket sales as more performers went out on tour.
Bloomin' Brands (BLMN) earned third quarter profit of 10 cents per share, excluding certain items, matching Street estimates. The restaurant operator lowered its sales guidance for the year.
OpenTable (OPEN) reported third quarter profit of 50 cents per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates by eight cents. The restaurant reservation service is also forecasting a current quarter revenue range that comes in mostly above Street forecasts.
Zillow (Z) lost five cents per share for the third quarter, a smaller loss than analysts had been expecting. The real estate web site operator's results were helped by the recovery in the U.S. housing market.
Papa John's (PZZA) reported in-line third quarter earnings of 65 cents per share. The pizza restaurant operator raised its full-year forecast largely above Wall Street estimates, and also announced a two-for-one stock split.
Toyota (TM) reported a 70 percent increase in profit for its latest quarter compared to a year earlier, and raised its profit forecast for the fiscal year ending in March. Toyota was helped by a weaker Japanese yen and cost cuts, overcoming a small sales decline.