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25.02.2011 14:19

Before the bell: Stocks set for higher open after 3-day rout

U.S. stocks were set for a higher open Friday, as oil prices slipped. However, futures backed off slightly from earlier highs after a disappointing report on the health of the U.S. economy.
On Thursday, stocks rebounded from afternoon lows and finished with small losses, as oil prices retreated from two-year highs above $100 a barrel.
"You might get a little bit of a relief rally, because oil prices are hovering around the $96 to $97 per barrel range," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners. "We're looking at stable commodity prices."
All three major indexes are on track for their worst week since August. Despite the pullback, stocks are still higher for the month of February and the year.
The Dow has posted losses for three consecutive sessions, losing 285 points this week, or 2.5%.
"We've seen a pullback in oil prices and there seems to be a direct correlation in the last couple days between stock prices and oil prices," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist for Janney Montgomery Scott. The biggest catalyst for even higher oil prices would be "if turmoil in the Middle East pours into another more strategic country, like Saudi Arabia," he said.

Economy: According to revised data the real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.8% in the fourth quarter. The GDP revision was much less than 3.3% increase economists forecasted.
A final read on February's University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey also is on the docket. The index is expected to remain unchanged at 75.1.
Companies: Shares of Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) were 4% higher in premarket trading, after the aerospace company won a $35 billion contract from the Air Force late Thursday.
Bailed-out insurer AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) posted an $11 billion profit for the fourth quarter, and $10 billion in earnings for the full year. Shares were up slightly in premarkets.
JC Penney (JCP, Fortune 500) reported a 30% surge in quarterly earnings, to $1.09 per share. The retailer beat analysts' forecast, who were expecting the department store chain to earn $1.08 a share.
Currencies and commodities: The dollar gained strength against the euro and the British pound but slipped against the Japanese yen.
Oil for April delivery fell 74 cents, or less than 1%, to $96.54 a barrel.

25.02.2011 14:48

RBC on GDP report

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