Five Things to Watch: Higher Oil, a Litany of Earnings and the Old Continent in Crisis.
Failure of the Socratic Method: Bond yields spiked and the euro broke through $1.41 Wednesday as Portugal looks to be the latest Eurozone nation facing collapse. First it was Greece, then it was Ireland… and now Portugal, as a fractured parliament failed to pass a budget of austerity, creating the near-inevitably of a bailout and leading Prime Minister Jose Socrates to resign. Our Guy Johnson is live in Brussels Thursday, where European leaders are meeting to discuss, what else, the Eurozone debt crisis.
Earnings Galore: While the market's been dominated by major macro moves of late, Thursday will see company-specific focus on the last big day of earnings releases in Q1. Big box electronics retailer Best Buy is expected to report profits of $1.85 a share. The stock has fallen significantly year-to-date, with the company managing dropping flat-screen TV prices as well as shrinking demand. Thursday afternoon, it's a tale of two tech names. Research In Motion is predicted to post earnings of $1.75 a share, ahead of the make-or-break release of its Playbook tablet. Analysts will be looking for $0.49 a share from Oracle — also know as Mark Hurd's rebound.
Oil Gushes Higher: Crude prices continue to rocket higher Wednesday, with oil closing at $105.50 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Though elevated commodity prices didn't keep major U.S. equity indices from posting major gains — the Dow finishing up 67.39 pts. With continued military strikes in Libya not to mention unrest throughout the region, the geopolitical pressure on crude is here for now. But, do stock market bulls have enough momentum to push through the headwinds?
What's in the Data: Two big numbers at 8:30am ET with weekly jobless claims expected to come in at 385k, while the February Durable Goods number is expected to be up 1.5%. While markets contend with numerous pressures abroad, the confusion over domestic economic indicators remains. Manufacturing data continues to be strong, in stark contrast with the horrid home sales numbers this week, which raise the prospect of a (dare we say it!) double dip for housing.
Auto's Worst Case Scenarios: As the auto industry continues to assess when auto parts makers in Japan will ramp up production, there's a growing concern in the industry that we could see production halts last well into April. Consultants at IHS will break down worst case scenarios in a 11:00am ET webcast. Phil LeBeau talks with IHS about how close we are to seeing extended closures for Toyota, Honda and Nissan, and whether we could see rolling stoppages for the big-three here in the U.S.
...and be sure to catch a special edition of the Closing Bell live from BlackRock's trading floor Thursday, where Maria Bartiromo with sit down with the company's Chairman & CEO Larry Fink.