NEW YORK (
) -- Friday's action will be hard pressed to match
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down more than 200 points at one point as Wall Street was spooked by the surprise release of 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves sending crude down to levels unseen since February, and continued high initial jobless claims.
But the blue-chip index recovered all but 60 points to finish with modest losses, and leave it 46 points points to play with in order to finish in positive territory for the week on Friday.
Tomorrow's economic calendar features the third estimate of first-quarter GDP and durable orders for May at 8:30 a.m. ET. The consensus view is that GDP growth will hold steady at 1.8%, while durable orders are expected to bounce back up and deliver an increase of 1.5% for the month following a decline of 3.6% in April.
Last month's drop was the biggest decline since October, and
estimate for May is for a rise of 2.5%, more optimistic than the consensus view. Excluding transportation, orders are seen rising only 0.7%.
Any earnings-inspired trading is likely to come from Thursday's late reports, namely
, which was
There was also some additional M&A news after the closing bell as
announced a competing all-cash bid for
. The move underlines how much cash that corporate America has on its collective books, which has driven healthy M&A so far this year as well as increased buyback and dividend activity.
was the latest company to announce repurchase plans, unveiling a $1 billion authorization after the closing bell along with news of the naming of Denise Morrison to the president and CEO posts. The stock rose more than 1% in late trades, and should attract buyers tomorrow.
Also late Thursday, Standard & Poor's announced
. Shares of the specialty retailer are down 30% so far in 2011, and they seem likely to come under further pressure in the next few weeks as fund managers following the benchmark index will need to back out of their positions.
Finally, Mark Arbeter, chief technical strategist at S&P, weighed in Thursday afternoon on what he sees in the S&P 500's chart at the moment.
"We envision the possibility of two scenarios unfolding in the near term, but both with bearish implications for the intermediate term," Arbeter says. "The first, which may be answered very soon, is that the "500" is retesting its recent lows and has one more bounce above the 1,295 level. The second, and more likely, in our view, is that the counter-trend rally is over and that the next leg of the downtrend has begun, and with it, an important break of support in the 1,250 to 1,265 region."
Arbeter likens the coming end of QE2 and
Chairman Ben Bernanke's message on Wednesday that no more stimulus is forthcoming to abruptly cutting off an addict's supply. He sees a chance that the Fed may eventually cave in, though, and pony up.
"What we do see happening is that the stock market will eventually kick and scream enough in the coming months to possibly force the Fed's hand into again giving the addict another bout of stimulus," Arbeter writes. "The entire stimulus, in our view, has not had the intended consequences regarding the economy, but rather has driven down the currency and led to the unintended consequence of inflation in the commodity markets. Going cold turkey doesn't seem to be a remedy considered by the Federal Reserve."
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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