S&P 500 Set for Four Up Days in a Row

Four days in a row? Futures are up, so this would make four gains in a row for the S&P 500...first time since the end of May.

Traders are betting that the Greek government will survive, will approve the austerity measures, and will get the next tranche of its bailout funds. Good luck: the austerity plan reportedly includes a "crisis levy" on taxpayers for the next three to four years.

Greece did successfully auction off 3-month paper, but they had to pay 4.6 percent. Spain paid 1.56 percent for 3-month paper; in the U.S., the yield on 3-month paper is 3 basis points. That's 0.03 percent. (See Sovereign Credit-Default Swaps at a glance.)

Unusual amount of trading desk chatter about Chinese Premier Wen's arrival in Europe Friday — they seem to think he will arrive with a big check to buy government securities, a wish that may not be too far removed from reality, given the Chinese government's stated intent to diversify away from the dollar.


1) Best Buy jumps 5 percent after announcing a $5 billion stock buyback plan and a 7 percent dividend increase. The electronics retailer will raise its quarterly dividend by a penny to $0.16/share.

The good news: Best Buy will now pay a roughly 2 percent dividend, better than the S&P 500's 1.6 percent.

The bad news: this occurs amid struggling sales. The stock is one of the worst-performing stocks in the S&P 500 over the past 7 months, falling 26 percent during that period.

2) Walgreen down 5 percent pre-open, despite beating estimates ($0.66 vs. $0.63 consensus) as comps grew 4.1 percent. General merchandise comps were up 3.9 percent, while prescription comps were up 4.1 percent. However, the stock is down after the drugstore warned that it will not be part of Express Scripts pharmacy network come January because contract renewal negotiations with the pharmacy benefits manager have fallen apart.


3) Barnes & Noble reports a wider-than-expected Q4 loss (loss of $1.04 vs. loss of $0.91 consensus) as sales were slightly below estimates. Still, web sales continued to support the company, surging 78 percent in the quarter on the strength of its Nook eReader-related sales. Comp store sales at the bookseller's retail stores remained depressed, falling 2.9 percent in the quarter.

4) June retail sales are off to a sluggish start. The International Council of Shopping Centers reported a 0.7 percent decline in retail comps, That's the second straight week of declines. The Council also cut its expectation for June sales, with comps now seen up 2-3 percent vs. prior estimate of up 3-4 percent.

5) Investors who have tried to play the Chinese IPO merry-go-round (and lost) can take some comfort in the fact that fund manager John Paulson has also cut his losses, selling his entire stake in Sino-Forest after questions about the accuracy of public disclosures by the company. Paulson had a 14 percent stake in the company. The stock trades in Canada and has gone from C$20 to C$2.73 this month. Not clear when Paulson got out, but he has clearly taken a bath.

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