Dow on track for 7th straight week of gains
A Thursday rebound for stocks has put the Dow back in positive territory for the week, while the S&P 500 opens the week's final trading day about two points away from breakeven for the week. Volume could be light during the Friday session as more investors prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday next week.
The only government report out today is one that usually does not move the markets, the Labor Department's Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover report, known popularly as JOLTS. There are also two Fed speeches on today's agenda, with Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo set for separate public appearances.
A light earnings calendar today once again focuses on retail, with AnnTaylor parent Ann Inc. (ANN), Foot Locker (FL), and PetSmart (PETM) all scheduled to report this morning. There are no companies scheduled to report after the bell, as is often the case on Friday.
Gap (GPS) leads our list of stocks to watch, with the clothing retailer reporting third quarter profit of 72 cents per share, one cent above estimates. The parent of Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stuck to its prior full-year forecast of $2.57 - $2.65, which is below the consensus estimate of $2.74, and it also announced a $1 billion stock buyback program.
Nike (NKE) raised its quarterly dividend to 24 cents per share from 21 cents, an increase of 14 percent. The athletic apparel and footwear maker has raised its dividend for 12 years in a row.
Pandora Media (P) earned six cents per share for the third quarter, excluding certain items, matching estimates, while revenue was above forecasts. The internet radio company had higher expenses for music, sales, and marketing during the quarter.
Time Warner Cable (TWC) is on the verge of a bid from Charter Communications (CHTR), according to the Wall Street Journal, which said Charter is near an agreement with banks for the funds to make that offer.
Herbalife (HLF) will be the subject of a renewed attack from activist investor Bill Ackman at the Robin Hood Conference in Boston today, according to Reuters. Ackman has maintained that Herbalife is a Ponzi scheme, while other well-known investors like Carl Icahn have taken opposite bets.
Novartis (NVS) said its experimental breast cancer drug will enter final stage trials next month. Both Novartis and Pfizer (PFE) are competing to get this particular treatment to the market, with Pfizer's rival drug already in phase 3 testing.
UPS (UPS) will raise prices an average 4.9 percent next year, joining rival FedEx (FDX) and the U.S. Postal Service in announcing rate hike plans for 2014.
The Fresh Market (TFM) reported third quarter profit of 23 cents per share, three cents below estimates, with revenue also missing the mark. The specialty grocery cut its full year earnings forecast for the second time, pointing to weaker consumer confidence.
Pozen (POZN) declared a special dividend of $1.75 per share. The drug maker will pay that dividend on December 30 to shareholders of record as of December 11.
Ross Stores (ROST) matched Street estimates with third quarter profit of 80 cents per share, but the retailer's current quarter guidance falls below analyst estimates as it warns of "intensely competitive" pricing for the holiday season.
Splunk (SPLK) posted a breakeven third quarter, better than the one cent loss than analysts had been forecasting, while revenue exceeded estimates. The maker of data analytics software was able to add more customers during the quarter, and raised its yearly revenue forecast.
Marvell Technology (MRVL) beat estimates by seven cents with third quarter profit of 32 cents per share, excluding certain items, while revenue was well above consensus. The chipmaker also gave a current quarter earnings forecast that falls largely above current analyst estimates, as it increases sales to wireless device makers.
Intuit (INTU) lost six cents per share for its first quarter, three cents smaller than Wall Street was expecting. Revenue exceeded estimates, but the software maker's current quarter earnings and revenue forecasts are below Street forecasts. Intuit is the company behind the Quicken and TurboTax software packages.
Autodesk (ADSK) reported third quarter profit of 41 cents per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates by two cents. Revenue exceeded analyst forecasts as well, as the design software provider benefited from higher subscription revenue and lower expenses.
Aruba Networks (ARUN) earned 16 cents per share for its first quarter, excluding certain items, two cents above estimates, with revenue above forecasts as well. Aruba, which makes wireless networking equipment, said it saw strong sales of products using the new Wi-Fi standard known as 802.11ac.
Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) announced a 30 million share secondary stock offering. Shares in the rating service provider to sold are currently held by several private equity firms, including Blackstone, Carlyle Group, KKR, and Thomas H. Lee Partners.