As if traders are taking a collective sigh ahead of this morning's gross domestic product report, stock prices are languishing in lower territory after their recent run. Earnings news continues to power prices of some standouts, like Microsoft, which is rising after yesterday's strong report.
Asian stocks were lower overnight, and European stocks this morning are weaker. Big Dow component Microsoft is getting a boost on its surprisingly strong results, and Citigroup today took the tech stock to a "buy."
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First-quarter GDP has been somewhat of a mystery and has certainly been one of the most talked down numbers in recent memory. Wall Street's economists were still taking a knife to that GDP number earlier this month in anticipation that a slowing U.S. economy will pull the number down below 2% annual growth. But there are some who think it could come in higher than the Street's low forecasts, including our Rick Santelli.
"I think it's going to be a big mover. If it's much below 1.8, it'll be a mover, or if it's above 2.4 that'll definitely get the markets rock and rolling. I personally think it will lean toward the better side, above 2% ... maybe even 2.5. I think there's surprise to upside," says Santelli from his post in the Chicago futures pits.
"A large percentage of the economy is sailing along very nicely. The subtraction to tomorrow's GDP number that will be linked toward housing and domestic manufacturing is going to be key and considering that that is a small subset of our GDP output, there is a natural bias for upside surprises," says Santelli.
The Dow ran out of steam Thursday after Wednesday's big run. Yet it managed to squeak out another record close on a tepid 15 point gain. The S&P 500, however, is the one to watch. The index stands 33 points, or 2.2% away from its record close of 1527 in March, 2000. The index has been lower three of the last four trading days and lost one point yesterday yet we're keeping a close eye on it as it creeps toward a seven year high.
Citigroup won control of Nikko Cordial Corp after a majority of the Japanese brokerages' shareholder accepted Citigroup's $7.7 billion bid overnight.
AT&T's CEO Edward Whitacre stands to get one of the biggest pension packages in corporate America : $158.5 million. Whitacre has given shareholders big returns, the Wall Street Journal points out. In the last year alone, the stock soared nearly 50%.