Today's Primer

Today's Primer Post


U.S. stocks are on a positive roll, with the Dow up in eight of nine sessions, and both the Dow and S&P 500 once again coming off their highest closes in more than 5 years. Both are also on pace for their biggest monthly gains since October 2011.

Today's economic calendar is light, with only the FHFA's November price index on the schedule at 9 a.m. New York time. Home prices are expected to post a 0.8 percent increase for the month, compared to October's rise of 0.5 percent.

The Mortgage Bankers Association is set to issue its usual weekly report on mortgage applications at 7 a.m., but the regular Wednesday release of the Energy Department's oil and gasoline inventory numbers is delayed until tomorrow because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday this past Monday.

Two Dow components lead this morning's list of corporate earnings, with United Technologies (UTX) set to report at 7 a.m. and McDonald's (MCD) scheduled for 8 a.m. We'll also get the latest numbers from Abbott Labs (ABT), Baker Hughes (BHI), Coach (COH), Quest Diagnostics (DGX), St. Jude Medical (STJ), and WellPoint Health (WLP).

Apple (AAPL) leads the list of today's after-the-bell earnings reports. Also due out: Amgen (AMGN), Netflix (NFLX), SanDisk (SNDK), Stryker (SYK), Symantec ()SYMC), and Western Digital (WDC).

Google (GOOG) leads our list of stocks to watch, after posting quarterly profit of $10.59 per share, 17 cents above estimates. Revenues, however, were slightly short and analysts have been highlighting the fact that the fastest growing parts of Google are in lower margin businesses.

Wells Fargo (WFC) has increased its quarterly dividend by 14 percent to $0.25 per share, from 40.22. The bank plans to return even more capital to shareholders once it gets permission to do so from the Federal Reserve.

IBM (IBM) earned $5.39 per share for the fourth quarter, 14 cents above estimates, with revenues also beating consensus. It's also predicting 2013 earnings slightly above Street estimates. IBM is benefiting from improved tech spending as well as growth in emerging markets.

Texas Instruments (TXN) reported fourth quarter profit of $0.36 per share, two cents above estimates, with revenues essentially in line. The chipmaker's current quarter outlook does fall largely below estimates, as demand continues to be weak in markets like Europe and China.

Comerica (CMA) is raising its quarterly dividend by 13 percent, to $0.17 per share from $0.15.

Norfolk Southern (NSC) earned $1.30 per share for the fourth quarter, beating estimates of $1.19, with revenues in line. The rail operator is seeing growth in its merchandise and intermodal businesses, but is also bearing the impact of slumping coal revenue.

CSX (CSX) is reporting a similar story to its rival, beating estimates by four cents with fourth quarter earnings of $0.43 per share, with the positive and negative impacts from the same sources as Norfolk Southern.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) earned $4.25 per share for the fourth quarter, $0.21 above estimates, with revenues also topping consensus. Its results were helped by increasing sales of its da Vinci surgical robots.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) lost $0.14 per share for the fourth quarter, a loss that was $0.06 smaller than analysts had forecast. But the chipmaker's loss was wider than a year earlier as PC demand continues to soften.

Unilever (UL) shares hit a record high overseas, as it reported 2012 sales growth of 6.9 percent, above analyst estimates. It did caution, however, that its markets remain difficult.

Research In Motion (RIMM) has released its new enterprise management system, paving the way for its biggest customers to use the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones due for release next week.