Call it the rally that refuses to end. Though the U.S. stock market's Wednesday gains could hardly be called strong, the Dow nonetheless is coming off its ninth straight winning session – something that hasn't occurred since November 1996. The next challenge for the bulls could be a slew of economic data that comes out today and tomorrow.
Three different government reports will hit the tape simultaneously at 8:30 a.m. ET, when we'll get the latest figures on initial jobless claims, producer prices, and the current account deficit. Consensus forecasts are looking for an increase of 10,000 in claims for last week to a total of 350,000. The February Producer Price Index is seen jumping 0.7 percent, though the ex-food & energy "core" rate is expected to be up just 0.1 percent. And the fourth quarter current account deficit likely amounted to $112.6 billion.
A short list of earnings releases this morning includes Dynegy (DYN), The Buckle (BKE), and Diana Shipping (DSX), while retailers Aeropostale (ARO) and Zumiez (ZUMZ), as well as movie house Carmike Cinemas (CKEC), will issue quarterly numbers after the closing bell.
Men's Wearhouse (MW) leads our stocks to watch, reporting a fourth quarter loss of $0.07 per share, two cents wider than expected. Revenues were slightly below estimates, but the apparel retailer did see a narrower loss compared to a year earlier with improving sales. The company also says it's considering strategic alternatives for its K&G business, seen as a positive by investors.
E*Trade Financial (ETFC) will see a major shareholder exit, as Citadel Equity says it plans to liquidate its entire position. Citadel will sell its 27.4 million share stake (9.6%) in an offering that is expected to close this coming Tuesday.
AIG (AIG) has named Don Cummings as Vice President and Controller. Cummings had been Deputy Chief Financial Officer at AIG's Life and Retirement unit.
Walt Disney (DIS) is delaying the launch of "Infinity" – a videogame and toy initiative – to August from the originally scheduled date in June. Disney says it's making the move to take advantage of a more favorable retail season, but the move also will push any profits into the fourth quarter from the third. "Infinity" lets the user put Disney and Pixar characters into on-screen adventures.
Vodafone (VOD) will end its long time sponsorship of Formula One team McLaren, according to the Financial Times. That follows a review of the telecom company's marketing strategy.
SandRidge Energy (SD) has struck a deal with major shareholder TPG-Axon Capital. Four directors nominated by TPG will be immediately added to SandRidge's board, in a move that could lead to the removal of CEO Tom Ward. TPG has been conducting a campaign to oust Ward and the entire board, pointing to both strategic errors, and allegations that SandRidge allowed a company owned by Ward's son to acquire oil and gas drilling rights.
Vera Bradley (VRA) reported fourth quarter profits that beat Street estimates, but the handbag designer also issued guidance for the current quarter and the full year that are below forecasts.
Christopher & Banks (CBK) reported a narrower fourth quarter loss on rising sales and cost cuts. The women's clothing store chain has been closing stores and cut jobs, and now has 17 percent fewer stores operating than it did a year ago.