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Stock Futures Today
The DJIA Index and the S&P 500 both hit record highs on Monday as concerns about interest-rate hikes faded and traders overlooked weakness in the housing markets. Several deals and rumors of possible mergers drove stocks higher. Oil prices reversed early gains that were fueled by violence and tension in Iraq and Yemen.
Top News in the Stock Market Today
- The Stock Market Today: Investors will react to the release of April housing start data, a critical indicator of the housing market's health following the pain of winter. This morning, the U.S. housing starts jumped to their highest levels in roughly 7.5 years, while new permits rose. In addition, a number of key retail companies will report earnings today as sector giants look to put a weak first quarter behind them.
- Earnings Reports: Companies that will report earnings include Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX), NQ Mobile Inc.(NYSE ADR: NQ), Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS), and Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC).
- End of the Eurozone: Economic indicators spilling from the United Kingdom this morning will be vital in a broader conversation about the future of the Eurozone. Following the Conservatives surprisingly easy win in the U.K. national elections this month, the nation is preparing for a national referendum on whether or not it will remain in the European Union. This would have a dramatic impact on the Eurozone given the United Kingdom is the continental bloc's second-largest economy.
- Oil Prices Today: Oil prices were muted after Goldman Sachs Co. (NYSE: GS) hiked its short-term crude outlook, hiked its long-term crude outlook, and downgraded two major producers. Goldman's equities team lifted its 2015 forecast for Brent crude from $52 to $58 per barrel, while it said it expects WTI prices to average $52 per barrel, up from its previous forecast of $48. This morning, WTI crude futures for June fell 1.1% on weak fundamentals to $58.78 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil fell 1.1% to $65.51 per barrel.
Pre-Market Movers in the Stock Market Today: WMT, HD, CHTR, TWC, CMCSA
- Pre-Market Movers 1, WMT: Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) slipped more than 2% on news the company reported weaker-than-expected U.S. same-store sales growth in the first quarter. The company said its customers were saving their tax returns and gasoline savings to pay off debt rather than boost discretionary spending.
- Pre-Market Movers 2, HD: Shares of Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) were up more than 1.3% on news the company beat Wall Street quarterly earnings estimates. The firm reported adjusted quarterly profits of $1.16 per share, besting analyst estimates by a penny. The firm increased its 2015 full-year earnings and sales outlooks, and said that its same-store sales were on the rise.
- Pre-Market Movers 3, CHTR: Charter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR) said it will proceed with its $10.4 billion deal to purchase private company Bright House Networks. The deal was originally part of a side plan related to the now defunct merger between Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA).
Stocks to Watch Today: VRX, AAPL, BP, STL
- Stocks to Watch No. 1, VRX: This afternoon, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (NYSE: VRX) will hold its annual general meeting. Investors are expected to ask company CEO Mike Pearson whether the firm will pursue another acquisition in 2015. The company recently won a bidding war for Endo International Plc. (Nasdaq: ENDO) in March, after it failed to acquire Botox-maker Allergan Inc. (NYSE: AGN) last year. Recently, activist investor Bill Ackman compared Valeant to an "early-stage Berkshire Hathaway" (NYSE: BRK.A), arguing the company will provide immense investor value through acquisitions in the years to come.
- Stocks to Watch No. 2, AAPL: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) were up again 0.3% this morning thanks to a ringing endorsement by activist investor Carl Icahn. The billionaire investor said that the stock was "still dramatically undervalued" and said it should be trading at roughly $240 per share. In an open letter to Apple's CEO Tim Cook, Icahn called for the firm to engage in a larger buyback program as soon as possible.
- Stocks to Watch No. 3, BP: Shares of BP Plc. (NYSE: BP) and Statoil ASA (OTCMKTS ADR: STL) are in focus after Goldman Sachs slashed its ratings on both companies from "neutral" to "sell." The investment bank raised long-term concerns about BP's dividend and cash-flow pressures at Statoil. BP shares were down 0.3% this morning, while STO shares cratered more than 3%.
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Housing Starts at 8:30 a.m.
- Redbook at 8:55 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
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