Today's Primer

Today's Primer Post


Wall Street's fascination for round numbers comes into focus today, as the Dow closes in on 14,000 for the first time in over five years. The Dow's Tuesday gain puts it within about 46 points of the 14,000 mark, while the S&P 500 chalked up its 9th gain in ten sessions.

Where the market ends the day may largely depend on what Federal Reserve policymakers say when they conclude their first meeting of 2013. The Fed's latest policy statement will come at about 2:15 p.m. New York time, with investors watching for any signals about a change in strategy for boosting the U.S. economy.

Ahead of the Fed statement, the Street will have several key economic reports to ponder. ADP is out with its monthly look at private sector employment at 8:15 a.m., with consensus forecasts calling for an addition of 165,000 private sector jobs in January after an increase of 215,000 in December.

At 8:30 a.m., the first estimate of 4th quarter GDP is expected to show the U.S. economy growing at a 1.0 percent annual rate, compared with a 3.1 percent rate during the third quarter.

The Treasury will sell $29 billion in 7-year notes today, with the results of that auction coming shortly after 1 p.m.

Weekly reports out today include the Mortgage Bankers Association's look at mortgage applications at 7 a.m., and the Energy Department's assessment of oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m.

Dow component Boeing (BA) is the most prominent of companies set to release quarterly earnings this morning. Also on this morning's schedule: Hess (HES), Northrop Grumman (NOC), Phillips 66 (PSX), Avery Dennison (AVY), and Abbott Labs spinoff AbbVie (ABBV).

Facebook (FB) is among the companies set to report after the bell, along with Qualcomm (QCOM), ConocoPhillips (COP), Citrix Systems (CTXS), Electronic Arts (EA), and JDS Uniphase (JDSU). (AMZN) leads our list of stocks to watch, with the stock getting a boost despite a fourth quarter shortfall on both the top and bottom lines, as well as a first quarter revenue forecast that falls below estimates. Analysts are focusing instead on Amazon's better than expected profit margins.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) chief executive Aubrey McLendon is retiring on April 1. The company also announced that it had found no improper conduct on McLendon's part after an extensive review of whether McLendon had blurred the line between his personal dealings and those related to the company. The shares got an immediate boost on takeover speculation following the announcement.

Copano Energy (CPNO) is being bought by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) for $3.22 billion dollars in stock, representing a 23.5 percent premium for Copano shareholders.

Broadcom (BRCM) earned $0.76 per share for the fourth quarter, three cents above estimates, with revenues in line with consensus. However, the chipmaker warned of a decline in first quarter revenue, because of seasonal trends and macroeconomic weakness. Broadcom also announced a 10 percent dividend hike.

Freescale Semiconductor (FSL) lost $0.15 per share for the fourth quarter, smaller than the expected loss of $0.18, with revenues beating consensus. The chipmaker also forecast current quarter revenue above analyst estimates, thanks to a boost in demand from its wireless and enterprise segments.

Ryland Group (RYL) is the latest home builder to benefit from a rebound in the housing market, reporting fourth quarter profit of $0.55, six cents above estimates, and also scoring a revenue beat.

Toyota (TM) is recalling 907 thousand vehicles, mostly Corollas, to investigate an air bag issue, and another 385,000 Lexus models for possibly defective windshield wipers.

Zynga (ZNGA) chief game developer Brian Reynolds has resigned from the company, according to a story on He's the latest high-level employee to leave the company.

Microsoft (MSFT) shipments of its Windows RT tablet computers have hit two million, according to DigiTimes. That's well below an original year-end target of about 4.5 million.