The ADP report for January, at a loss of 22,000 jobs (consensus was for a loss of 30,000), was the smallest decline since January 2008, which was the last time there was jobs growth.
1) News Corp. beat earnings by all metrics, but the most important message is: advertising growth appears to be accelerating. The Film and Cable divisions were standouts again, increasing 189% and 35% respectively, whilst Newspapers and Television saw revenue growth after declining for four quarters. Operating income guidance also upgraded to "high single to low double digit" growth to growth in the "low 20% range."
2) Pfizer falls 1.5 percent pre-open after earnings and guidance disappointed. Earnings fell a penny short of expectations, as sales of its big drugs Lipitor and Celebrex only edged up 1 percent.
Looking ahead, 2010 earnings are seen between $2.10 and $2.20, below the consensus estimate of $2.27.
3) Walgreen reported a 1.1-percent DROP in January same-store sales. That was very disappointing as the Street was expecting a 2.7-percent RISE.
The drugstore saw lower comparable pharmacy (down 1.2 percent) and general merchandise sales (down 1.0 percent). Prescriptions were up though, but that was largely due to the issuance of H1N1 flu shots.
4) Dividends are back! Time Warner beat and — perhaps most importantly — raised quarterly dividend and increased their share repurchase program.
Since December, 2009, there have been 37 dividend increases, and just 1 decrease, according to Standard and Poor's. And there should be more coming: February is traditionally the busiest month for dividend increases.
5) Black and Decker , which is in the midst of being acquired by Stanley Works , beat earnings estimates, but sales were still poor: Industrial Products sales declined 20 percent, with double-digit declines in Consumer Products.
The deal with SWK should close this quarter or the beginning of the second.
6) McDonald's is up 1 percent after being upped to "conviction buy" from "buy" at Goldman Sachs. The report expects the fast food giant's traffic rising as same-store sales and margins continue to grow.
7) Refinancing applications soared 26 percent in the past week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That helped boost mortgage applications by 21 percent to a 6-week high while mortgage rates were steady at 5.01 percent. Mortgage applications for home purchases rose a more modest 10.3 percent in the week.
8) Looking for the pullback — what about the one in January? Investors Intelligence reported that financial newsletter writers got both less bullish AND less bearish last week; instead, more (38.9 percent) entered the "correction" camp.
A correction is defined as long-term bulls who expect a market pullback that they want to buy. Maybe they didn't notice the 6 percent correction that happened in the S&P 500 in January?
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