NEW YORK (
) -- The market has reeled off
to start this week as debt situation in Greece grinds toward some semblance of the country being on sure footing.
There's a first vote in Greece on austerity measures planned for Wednesday and another on Thursday, so there will be plenty of headlines in between now and then but Wall Street definitely seems to have developed a level of comfort that a resolution is in the offing. The market is in a slow patch now with the heavy pickup in earnings reports still weeks away, and worries about life after QE2 put off for the moment (or at least until after the July 4 holiday weekend).
At the same time, with the year at the halfway mark, there's plenty of commentary on what to expect in the second half. One interesting tidbit was a poll of active investors conducted by
that found a slim majority of active investors see the
topping 1400 by the end of year, implying a gain of nearly 8% from Tuesday's close around 1297.
The poll, which defines active investors as those making 36 or more trades annually, was based on 700 responses during the late May-early June timeframe, precisely when the market was tanking. The results found 51% of these investors expect the S&P 500 to rise more than 100 points by the end of 2011, seeing an increase to at least 1417.
In addition, 60% of responders said their next investing dollar would be put into stocks. From a sector standpoint, 36% of the investors said energy has most upside potential in the next six months, ahead of 22% who felt health care was the better bet. The banks attracted the most bears with 62% of responders saying they plan to steer clear of the sector.
"Even in the face of mixed public sentiment about the market's direction, active investors remain engaged and expect healthy gains by the end of 2011," said James Burton, the president of Fidelity's retail brokerage business, in a statement. "At the same time, they are keeping a sharp eye on inflation and are poised to move their money to more inflation‐resilient investments should their concerns increase."
Of course, this is only reflective of a small, specialized segment of the investing public, and judging by the low summer volumes we've seen, these folks don't seem to be putting their money where their poll opinions are just yet, so take it for what it's worth.
As for Wednesday's session, the economic data is mostly focused on housing. The Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly mortgage applications index for the week ended June 25 is due at 7 a.m. ET. The previous week saw a decline of 5.9% in volume.
Investors will also get pending home sales for May to chew on at 10 a.m. ET. The consensus is calling for a dip of 0.6%, while
is expecting an increase of 2%. In April, pending sales fell by a whopping 11.6% so a positive number would be welcome.
Ian Shepherdson, the chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, sees a likely upside surprise, noting that the National Association of Realtors gave a bullish indication of pending home sales after the release of soft existing home sales numbers for the month last week.
"As far as we know, the NAR has never previously commented on the likely performance of the index in any particular month before its release, and as the NAR compiles the numbers, we are inclined to take it seriously," Shepherdson wrote in a research note.
Also due on Wednesday are crude inventories for the week ended June 25 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
On the corporate front,
is scheduled to hold its annual analyst meeting on Wednesday. The PC maker held a preview event of sorts on Tuesday, and issued a press release after the closing bell that provided
for this year, but the stock didn't do much in reaction.
Based on Tuesday's close at $16.01, the shares are up nearly 18% so far in 2011 but Dell looks to have its work cut out for it on Wednesday as 20 of the 37 analysts covering the stock are bearish with either hold (16) or underperform (4) ratings. The burning question is how the company deals with the rise of the tablet (and corresponding decline of the laptop).
Bank of America
was one of the most active stocks in
on Wednesday on reports the massive bank is ready to pony up $8.5 billion to settle claims related to mortgage-backed securities that went bad.
Another headline to watch for on Wednesday could be social game developer
filing for an ambitious $2 billion initial public offering, according to
The Wall Street Journal
. That would imply a valuation of $20 billion for the inventors of
. To Zynga's credit, the company is believed to be expecting a profit this year, unlike
, which has yet to make its debut.
On the earnings front, the most interesting name is probably
, which is reporting its fiscal third-quarter results. The average estimate of analysts polled by
is for a profit of $1.11 a share in the May-ended quarter on revenue of $3.36 billion.
Monsanto's numbers typically get a lot of attention because the seed producer's outlook provides some clues as to how America's farmers are doing, which in turn offers insight into food prices. While the stock is up more than 40% in the past year, Monsanto's shares have slogged through 2011, sliding almost 6%.
Wednesday's other quarterly reports include
, seen posting earnings of 78 cents a share;
, forecast to lose 41 cents a share;
Family Dollar Stores
, projected to earn 95 cents a share; and, due after the closing bell,
, which is seen reporting a profit of 52 cents a share. General Mills had some good news that couldn't wait apparently on Tuesday as it announced a 9% increase in its annual dividend payout.
Lastly, President Barack Obama is holding a
previously unscheduled news conference at 11:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday
. Likely topics could include the progress on the contentious budget talks taking place this week with the Republicans, and his plans for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, which were detailed last week.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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