Today's Primer

Slow trading expected ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

Many investors are likely to remain on the sidelines today, with the holiday just ahead and poor weather hitting much of the Eastern half of the nation. The Dow and Nasdaq enter the pre-holiday trading session with four straight days of gains, although the Dow's Tuesday gain was just a quarter point. A positive day today would give the Dow its first five-day win streak since March.

There are no earnings reports of note today as investors gear up for the Thanksgiving holiday and a half day of trading Friday.

It is, however, a busy morning for economic numbers, including the release of the weekly jobless claims numbers a day early. The 8:30 a.m. ET report is seen rising to 330,000 for last week, compared to 323,000 the prior week.

At the same time, the October durable goods report is out, with consensus forecasts calling for a drop of 1.7 percent, compared to a 3.8 percent increase in September.

At 9:45 a.m. ET, economists look for the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index to fall to 60.0 for November compared to 65.9 in October, although that's still well above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction.

At 9:55 a.m., the University of Michigan is out with its final November consumer sentiment index. According to consensus forecasts, the index will rise to 73.5 from the preliminary November reading of 72.0 and October's final 73.2.

And the Conference Board will release the October Index of Leading Economic Indicators at 10 a.m. ET, expected to be unchanged after the index jumped 0.7 percent in September.

The Energy Department will have its usual Wednesday look at oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET, and will move its Thursday natural gas inventories report up to noon ET today due to the holiday. We'll also get the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly report on mortgage applications at 7 a.m. ET.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) leads our list of stocks to watch, with the former Dow component reporting fiscal fourth quarter profit of $1.01 per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates by a penny. Revenue was also above analyst forecasts, led by an increase in enterprise sales.

Analog Devices (ADI) earned 62 cents per share for its fourth quarter, four cents above estimates. But revenue and the current quarter forecast for the maker of signal processing technology fell below forecasts.

TiVo (TIVO) beat estimates by four cents with third quarter profit of 10 cents per share, with revenue beating consensus as well. The maker of digital video recorders benefited from an increase in subscriptions through set top boxes.

Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup (C) are the subjects of a Justice Department probe focusing on their foreign hiring practices, according to Reuters. They become the latest financial firm to be subject to such an investigation, joining JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and others.

Ashland's (ASH) water technologies unit is the focus of a joint bid from Danaher (DHR) and Blackstone Group (BX), according to Reuters. The chemical maker's water technologies business is also drawing interest from other private equity firms, including Apollo Global Management and Bain Capital.

McCormick (MKC) raised its quarterly dividend by three cents to 37 cents per share. The spice maker has increased its quarterly payout for 28 consecutive years.

Infoblox (BLOX) is forecasting current quarter results below analyst forecasts, following a surge in business that has helped the stock to nearly triple in the past year. The maker of networking equipment said it has had significant quarter to quarter revenue growth for five to six quarters and that it can take time to digest such large increases.