Trader Talk

Hovering at New Highs—Again

Editor's Note: Bob Pisani is on assignment today, this was written by CNBC producer Robert Hum.

Resting at or near new highs (Dow at a new high, S&P very close to new highs), the markets are indicating a slightly lower, albeit fairly flat, open today. This comes as the dollar edges up after 2 days of declines.

Commodities are a mixed bag today, with the energy complex falling fractionally in early trading while metals post modest gains. Gold prices continues to hold above the $1,200 level it crossed for the first time yesterday. Some metals and mining stocks are up 1 percent pre-open, with many already hovering right around new highs.

Not moving futures much this morning is the ADP employment report, which forecasted a decline of 169,000 U.S. jobs in November – slightly more than the 150,000 expected by economists. Still, the decline was the smallest number since July 2008. Slightly offsetting that greater-than expected decline is a small improvement in the October data (decline of 195,000 now vs. 203,000 in prior report).

This report comes ahead of the federal government’s own November non-farm payrolls report that will be released on Friday.


1) SunTrust Banks and BB&T are up 2 percent in pre-market trading as Credit Suisse upgraded each of the two individual stocks and boosted its rating on the entire regional banking sector. SunTrust was boosted to “outperform” from “neutral,” while BB&T was upped to “neutral” from “underperform.”

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse raised the entire regional banking sector to “overweight,” saying that it expects banks’ loan loss provisions to peak in Q4 and better earnings visibility ahead.

2) Continental Airlines is up 2 percent after posting a 2.9 percent rise in November traffic. The airline’s load factor also rose 3.2 percent points, as planes flew at fuller capacities. Despite the increase in traffic, passengers paid less for their travel, as Continental’s revenue per available seat mile fell 7 percent to 9 percent vs. the year ago month.

3) Walgreen is down about 1 percent pre-open after its November same-store sales rose 3.9 percent, below estimates. The drugstore’s comps were helped by strong same-store pharmacy sales, which rose 5.7 percent, as the number of prescriptions filled rose 7.4 percent. General merchandise comps edged slightly higher (up 0.8 percent) in the month.

4) Nokia said it sees 2010 industry volumes to rise 10 percent from this year’s levels. The handset maker expects maintain its current market share, but seeks to improve average selling prices of its mobile phones.

5) The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported a 2.1 percent rise in mortgage applications from last week. While mortgage applications for new home purchases rose 4.1 percent, refinancing applications were only up 1.7 percent. This came as rates continued to fall – falling to 4.79 percent last week, its lowest level in over 6 months. 



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