Today's Primer

Wall Street Consistent In Its Inconsistency


The stock market could be on the verge of a very odd type of history: the S&P 500 has alternated between gains and losses for the past 12 sessions, something that hasn't been done since 1981. The S&P 500 has never before had such a streak reach 13 sessions, something that could occur today. The Dow's "alternation streak" could reach 12 today, although it did have such a streak of that length in May 2009.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 would have to finish lower today for those streaks to continue, something that will likely depend on the March employment report, due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Consensus forecasts call for 200,000 new non-farm jobs, with the unemployment rate remaining steady at 7.7 percent. The government is also out with trade deficit figures for February at the same time, with a $44.8 billion shortfall expected following January's $44.4 billion deficit.

At 3:00 p.m. ET, consumer credit figures for February will be out, with economists expecting a $15.0 billion expansion after January's rise of $16.15 billion.

There are no earnings reports of note out today, though investors are looking ahead to the start of earnings season Monday afternoon when Dow component Alcoa (AA) will report its quarterly numbers.

Dow component Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is a stock to watch this morning, as chairman Ray Lane resigns from that post, although he will remain as a director. Two other directors have also departed, and director Ralph Whitworth will take over as interim chairman. Lane has been under fire for his role in the acquisition of British software company Autonomy, after HP took a multi-billion dollar writedown because of accounting issues.

F5 Networks (FFIV) has slashed its fiscal second quarter outlook, with its North American business performing below expectations. The technology provider now sees profit of $1.06 - $1.07 per share, compared to current estimates of $1.23.

Boeing (BA) may do a certification flight for its grounded 787 jet today, according to reports. The flight would be a key step on getting a revamped battery system approved and returning the 787 to service.

Chevron (CVX) has completed repairs at its Richmond, California refinery that was damaged in a fire last year. The facility still needs regulatory approval to resume production, which is seen coming by the end of June.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) has obtained a new $1 billion revolving credit line, replacing an $800 million line that was set to expire in April 2016.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) unit Health Plan of Nevada has been found responsible by a jury in a case involving members who contracted hepatitis C. The plaintiffs in the case have been awarded $24 million in compensatory damages, with punitive damages still to be determined.

Walt Disney (DIS) is set to begin an undetermined number of layoffs at its consumer products and studio units, according to a Reuters report.

Apple (AAPL) will sign a music streaming deal with Warner and Universal Music within a week, according to a CNET report.