Retail sales, at down 0.3 percent, was below expectations of a gain of 0.5 percent, though November was revised upward, while first time unemployment claims rose slightly more than expected for the week.
Stock futures moved lower in reaction.
Despite the low volume and low volatility, we have drifted higher since the beginning of the year; the S&P is essentially at 15-month highs.
1) Metals producer Rio Tinto said iron ore demand jumped 49 percent in the December quarter due to strong demand from China. They are looking to boost production 6 percent in 2010 and will likely be raising iron ore prices. CEO Tom Albanese said that he was cautious on the global economy but admitted, "We are seeing recovery across most of our key commodities."
2) William-Sonoma rises 4 percent pre-open after reporting strong holiday sales and raising guidance. Same-store sales during the 8-week holiday period jumped 6.5 percent.
As a result, the home good retailer also raised Q4 earnings guidance to $0.69-$0.74, well above Street expectations of $0.50.
3) SAP gets a 3 percent boost in pre-market trading this morning after reporting better-than-expected preliminary 2009 revenues. Although the German software developer saw software service revenues fall 5 percent in 2009, that was better than the company's expectation for a 6 to 8 percent decline. Additionally, the tech giant sees operating margins of 27.5 percent - ahead of prior its prior forecast of 25.5 percent-27.0 percent.
4) LaBranche surges 42 percent pre-open to $3.95 after the NYSE's 2nd biggest designated market maker agreed to sell its specialist operations to Barclays (BCS) for $25 million. Upon completion of the deal - which will close later this quarter - Barclays will be responsible for nearly 50 percent of the listings on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
5) Target said they would resume their $10 billion share buyback plan
6) Home builders sold short: NYSE released short interest data, which indicates that home builders like DR Horton, Lennar , Pulte and building materials maker Stanley Works saw increases in their short interest in the last two weeks of December.
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