Stock futures are laying a firm foundation for a higher opening today, as some big earnings dominate the morning headlines. Morgan Stanley stock is climbing after the firm reported a 41% increase in profit.
FedEx reported a 7% increase in profit but included a one-time gain on a canceled Airbus order in its results. The firm, watched as an economic barometer, said its fiscal fourth quarter was hurt by a slowing economy and weakened industrial sector. CEO Frederick Smith will appear on "Closing Bell" today.
Morgan Stanley said its profit from continuing operations rose to $2.58 billion. The firm said investment banking revenue was up 65%, equity sales and trading was up 33%, and fixed-income trading and sales rose 34%.
Down Wall Street, meanwhile, two Bear Stearns hedge funds were close to being shut down as a rescue plan developed fell apart, according to the Wall Street Journal. Merrill Lynch, a lender to one fund, said it would move to seize collateral and sell it.
Home Depot's plan to buy back $22.5 billion in stock is also giving the market a firm tone. Stifel Nicolaus upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold."
Oil is hovering close to the psychological $70 a barrel level but is off slightly this morning and has slipped under $69 a barrel.
Bonds are also easing up pressure on the stock market this morning. The 10-year yield is trading at about 5.08%.
Microsoft said it would change its Vista software after complaints from Google to antitrust officials. Microsoft agreed to make changes that would allow rivals like Google to run their search programs with the new operating software. Microsoft agreed to the changes ahead of a court hearing next week to review its compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement.
Bring it On
Blackstone Group is moving ahead with its public offering, and in fact, is moving the date forward. The offering is now expected to price tomorrow night. This news comes after much Wall Street fretting over a Senate bill that would raise taxes on private equity partnerships to corporate rates when they go public. The legislation is gaining support and would start the tax change in five years. Nonetheless, it has raised worries about the valuation of Blackstone and other such deals.
Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley upgraded Colgate-Palmolive to "overweight" from "equal weight," saying cost savings, strong operating fundamentals and the weaker dollar all provide potential upside to earnings estimates.