Stocks Still in Thrall to Oil

Stocks are still in thrall to oil. Overnight, as oil spiked up to near $103 about 2am ET, S&P futures had lost about 10 points. They have come off their lows as oil has stabilized around $100. (Market Open Update:Dow Declines Despite Upbeat Job News )

Maybe it's because the Street is suspecting there is too high a premium on oil: The Saudis are said to be in "active talks" to boost oil supplies; and our own Ross Westgate, who is in Riyadh, has been reporting that Saudis have been happy that the king has returned after three months of medical treatment outside the country.

This is a very different feeling toward the ruling monarch than is being expressed toward the man in Libya. (See: Scenes of Civil Unrest in Libya )

More inflation jitters. India's Sensex index fell 3 percent. The government reported that food prices are up 11.5 percent year-over-year, while fuel prices have risen 12.1 percent over the past year.


1) General Motors reported earnings of $0.52, notably better than the $0.46 consensus, on revenues of 36.9 billion, also notably bettter than the $34.1 billion consensus. Not much in the way of color or guidance.

Many retailers again reporting earnings today, again with mixed results.

2) Target earnings missed estimates ($1.38 vs. $1.40 consensus) as revenues fell short of expectations and margins contracted. Same-store sales grew 2.4 percent, while its credit card division saw a reduction in bad debt expense and a significant increase in profits.

3) Limited Brands topped earnings estimates by a penny amid a 10 percent rise in same-store sales. The sales momentum looks to be stretching into February too, as the women's apparel retailer boosted its comps estimate for the month to a high single digit growth rate.

Meanwhile, earnings guidance is fairly inline with expectations. Q1 earnings are seen between $0.26-$0.31 (vs. $0.30 consensus), while full-year earnings are seen between $2.15-$2.35 (vs. $2.26 consensus).

4) Kohls reported Q4 earnings of $1.66, in-line with expectations, but Q1 guidance is weak: $0.68-0.73, below consensus of $0.72. They are increasing their buyback, and more importantly have initiated a respectable dividend of $0.25, which is a roughly 2 percent dividend yield. It's the first cash dividend in the company's history. 2011 guidance of $4.05-$4.25 is below consensus of $4.35.

5) After reporting strong earnings last week, Nordstrom announced it is raising its quarterly dividend 15 percent to $0.23 per share.

6) At an analyst conference, Heinz announced it expects Q3 earnings of $0.84, well ahead of the Street's $0.80 estimate. Margins have improved, and the food company sees Q3 organic sales growth rising 2 percent, led by a 14 percent surge in emerging market sales. Although commodity costs have been increasing too, the company has recently implemented a variety of price increases. Guidance for the full-year is raised to $3.04-$3.10 (vs. $3.09 consensus). ?

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