(Updated with latest economic data, corporate earnings and market data.)
If you enjoy parsing earnings reports, you're in store for a busy day. Some 54 companies in the S&P 500 index are releasing earnings today, and a good handful of Canadian large-cap stocks are also reporting.
That should make for a volatile day in individual stock prices, but overall the market tone this morning is positive and relatively calm. U.S. stock futures are up around 0.5 per cent, and crude and gold are making gains as well, pointing to a stronger start for the TSX.
The earnings season hasn't been too encouraging so far. Though about 70 per cent of S&P 500 companies have beaten analysts' forecasts for earnings, 59 per cent missed sales forecasts, according to Bloomberg data. It's a signal once again that cost-cutting has bolstered the bottom lines of many firms, but actual sales to customers remain sluggish in an economy that hasn't picked up a lot of steam since the recent recession. And looking ahead, of the 30 S&P 500 companies that have given guidance so far, 87 per cent of fourth-quarter outlooks have been negative, according to Reuters.
The main event on the earnings front today will be Apple, which will disclose its results shortly after the market close. The tech giant has previously said it expects revenue of $34-billion (U.S.) and diluted earnings per share of about $7.65 in the quarter. But Apple is notorious for being conservative in its guidance. Analysts are looking for sales of about $36-billion and profit of $8.83 a share. As the Globe's Omar El Akkad writes, Apple may have to post one more underwhelming quarter before it returns to blockbuster numbers.
Meanwhile, U.S. durable goods orders and jobless claims data this morning came in fairly close to expectations. We detail that, a recap on earnings, and much more below:
Futures: Dow +0.5 per cent, S&P 500 +0.6 per cent, Nasdaq +0.6 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.21 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.66 per cent
Japan’s Nikkei +1.12 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +0.38 per cent
France’s CAC 40 +0.39 per cent
Germany’s DAX index +0.59 per cent
WTI (Nymex Dec) +0.68 per cent at $86.31 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) +0.81 per cent at $1,715.30 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) -0.11 per cent at $3.56 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0024, or 0.24 per cent, at $1.0089 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
The U.S. Commerce Department reported durable goods rose 9.9 per cent in September from an unusual dip the previous month, beating expectations for a 7.8 per cent rise.
U.S. initial jobless claims for last week fell 23,000 to 369,000. That was a little less than the 372,000 that was expected.
(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. releases its pending home sales index for September. Economists expect a 2.5 per cent rise from August.
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan's third-quarter profit fell to 74 cents a share, down 22 per cent from a year ago, missing analyst expectations by about 3 cents a share.
Nexen said it still expects a $15.1-billion takeover bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd. to close in the current quarter and reported a 71 per cent fall in third-quarter profits.
Precision Drilling said its quarterly net income fell 53 per cent to 14 cents a share, missing the Street expectation for 19 cents. Revenues were also short of forecasts, dropping 1.7 per cent.
Cenovus Energy said its quarterly net income fell by 43 per cent to $289-million, or 38 cents per share before adjustments – missing analyst estimates. But cash flow rose by 41 per cent to $1.47 per share – 25 cents per share ahead of analysts' estimates.
Shaw Communications met analyst expectations in reporting earnings of 28 cents a share.
Domtar reported a big drop in year-over-year third-quarter profit, but still managed to handily beat expectations on earnings and came in on target for revenue.
Procter & Gamble reported quarterly adjusted earnings of $1.06 a share, beating the consensus forecast of 96 cents a share.
ConocoPhillips reported a profit of $1.8 billion, or $1.46 a share, down from $2.62 billion, or $1.91 a share, a year earlier. Sales decreased 12 per cent to $14.52-billion, beating expectations.
Colgate-Palmolive reported earnings of $1.36 a share, up from $1.31 a year ago. It also said it will cut more than 2,310 workers, or 6 per cent of its workforce, by the end of 2016.
Zynga shares are soaring 14 per cent in the premarket after the company slightly raised its earnings outlook for 2012 and announced a $200-million (U.S.) share buyback.
Earnings also include: Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Canam Group Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., Goldcorp Inc., Imax Corp., Norbord Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corp., Sprint Nextel Corp., Hershey Co., Toromont Industries Ltd., Unilever PLC, and Vitran Corp. Inc.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Mutual fund giant Pimco is prepared to cut its holdings of emerging-market corporate debt next year on concern a flood of new sales and further economic slowdown in China will put an end to a 12-month rally in the securities.
Are Facebook shares finally worth buying? A new analysis from Marketwatch's Mark Hulbert says no.
How Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has fundamentally altered the way the social networking giant goes about its business.
U.S. presidential election history suggests this is a good time to buy gold.
For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities