(Updated from 8:26 a.m.)
Nasdaq Composite Index posted meager losses yesterday, stocks are precariously holding onto Friday's dazzling record gains. Any blips or bloopers on the earnings screen could easily derail a volatile market -- and today is the busiest day of earnings reports yet this season.
Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 33 to 10,274. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 58 to 3349. And the
S&P 500 moved up 6 to 1381.
Then again, perhaps Wall Street will finally get those upside earnings surprises everyone has been waiting for. It looks like investors were expecting the latter this morning, with futures hovering nicely above fair value.
"As more earnings come out, we might get a little better here," said Brian Finnerty, head of trading at
C.E. Unterberg Towbin
. "My screen is pretty green here. Most of the worst is over for the Nasdaq in terms of that 3000 low. We may have successfully retested that level," he said.
"My sense is, we'll probably have a bit more constructive day. We would have had one yesterday, except for the
stuff," Finnerty said.
But the semiconductors may not have seen the end of their pain. After
Salomon Smith Barney
lowered Intel's price target and EPS estimate yesterday, the semiconductors had a nasty day. And analysts were sending out more negative vibes on the sector this morning. Several firms, including
, downgraded chipmaker
lowered its expectations for prices on commodity chips, or
Basically, Intel is making an effort to lower its chip prices, which some fear could bring about a price war with rival
Advanced Micro Devices
. Prices for other chips could then topple in sympathy.
Still, any drops in prices would be great for the PC-makers, which use DRAM to make their machines, Finnerty said.
The chips news is good for the box-makers, he said. "They can take those component prices in their margins or transfer them on to customers."
He did note that PC giant
wasn't getting any boost on the news yet.
In any case, this morning's news of a cease-fire agreement in the Middle East will certainly help overall sentiment.
Talks between President
, Palestinian leader
and Israeli Prime Minister
, among others, began yesterday, and expectations for an agreement were not high. Several weeks of violence in the region have left over 100 dead.
Following news of the cease-fire agreement, oil prices took the obvious stumble. That's good for the market, but bad for energy stocks. Concern that continued violence in the region might threaten supply to the U.S., where reserves are already critically low, took already high prices even higher over the last two weeks.
This morning, oil prices were down $1.89 to $33.10.
And back to earnings -- today's schedule is packed with Dow components: semiconductor Goliath and yesterday's biggest loser, Intel; hardware and software bigwig
; financial top-dog
Johnson & Johnson
; big tobacco
. Yesterday, the Dow struck up some modest gains (around 47 points). For a complete list of today's reporting S&P 500 companies, take a look at
reported earnings above estimates by 2 cents this morning, sending its shares higher in Europe.
industrial production figures came out at 9:15 a.m. EDT. But in the midst of earnings season, the numbers weren't expected to make too many waves. Industrial production was forecast to reach a 0.1% gain vs. the previous 0.3%. Capacity utilization was forecast to hit 82.2%, compared with the previous month's 82.3%.
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The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 3/32 at 100, yielding 5.749%.
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European markets were mixed at midsession, as investors waited to for earnings reports from a slew of companies today.
had broken away from the flatline into the green. It was lately 67.40 lower to 6218.30.
in Paris was 45.20 higher to 6133.24, while the
in Frankfurt was a little higher, up 7.10 to 6634.35.
The euro continued lower, lately trading down to 0.8492.
Asian equity markets closed lower Tuesday, amid continuing concern over events in the Middle East and a renewed bout of weakness for the region's technology shares.
closed down 172.1, or 1.1%, at 15,340.2.
In Tokyo trading, the dollar was trading higher at 108.15 yen from 107.85 yen Monday. It was lately trading at 107.95 yen.
Elsewhere, South Korea's stock market got hammered as
plummeted nearly 15%, after reporting third-quarter earnings. The
index tanked 37.3, or 6.8%, to 512.9. In Hong Kong, the
index fell 99.9, or 0.7%, to 14,873.4, as
fell HK$0.50, or 1%, to 50.75 ($6.51).
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