Five Things to Watch: Bashing Big Oil and More

Energy heavyweights and top financial regulators head to Capitol Hill on Thursday, a cornucopia of retail data sets the tone for the earnings frenzy, and Cisco searches for its turnaround. Here's what we're watching…


Commodity (Crash?) Correction: For the second time in five trading sessions, the commodity complex got crushed. Silver closed down 8% and gasoline finished off 7%, leading the list of losers. It was a perfect storm Wednesday as higher-than-expected inventory numbers indicated slowing global demand, while the U.S. dollar spiked on euro weakness.

Oh, and for good measure, the CME raised margin levels for gasoline futures after the market closed Wednesday. Compound it all together and both commodities and equities were down across the board.

One potential game-changer that could lift the former in coming days: the high waters in the Mississippi River.

Get Out Your Pitchforks!: Correction notwithstanding, it's simple math: gas at $4, oil at $100 and profits in the stratosphere. What does it equal? Congressional hearings.

At 930a ET, the big names behind big oil take their place before the Senate Finance Committee in a hearing focused on rising energy prices and current industry tax incentives.

Democrats are using the energy landscape to question how the likes of ExxonMobil and Chevron are reaping billions in tax subsidies. The industry, of course, argues that the benefits foster domestic production and American jobs. Expect fireworks!

Rewriting the Rulebook: Not to be outshined by Senate Finance, the Senate Banking Committee will haul in the roster of regulators for a hearing on Dodd-Frank implementation (or, in reality, lack thereof). Though nobody's expecting any news on monetary policy, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be in the spotlight per normal. As recently as last week, he argued that government agencies must avoid "the imposition of ineffective or burdensome rules" on banks.

Good luck with that! And, who are we kidding? With congressional Q&A, just about anything is on the table.

It's Not Always Sunny in San Jose:Cisco delivered strong bottomline earningsWednesday afternoon, beating Wall Street estimates by 5 cents a share. That was enough to push shares in the struggling Dow component higher in after-hours trading… until it wasn't.

Those gains were erased when CEO John Chambers spoke of weakness ahead and pressure on margins in the company's conference call. The stock fell into negative terriory when the company announced its tepid guidance. Considering the first quarter results marked an 18% decline in profits for a company taking a long look in the mirror as it restructures, and investors don't have too much reason to be optimistic.

We'll be looking forward to our interview with Chambers at 9:00am ET Thursday morning.

Retail Roundup: Where to start? Macy's absolutely crushed Wall Street earnings estimates Wednesday, posting major gains come the closing bell. Ahead of the supersized list of retail earnings next week, plenty of data on Thursday. The government's read on April retail sales hits the tape at 8:30am ET with a consensus forecast of an 0.6% uptick. Throw in the bookends of Kohl's earnings in the morning and Nordstrom in the afternoon… and we've got our hands full.