NEW YORK (
) -- Thursday brings a revision of the government's assessment of first-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. ET, and economists are expecting a boost to 2% from 1.8%, according to the consensus estimate compiled by
Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, expects an even bigger jump, estimating that upward revisions to retail sales numbers will alone be good for a 0.3% increase.
"The consensus forecast is that the headline number will be nudged up to 2.2%, but we hope rather better, at 2.6%," he said.
The market also gets initial jobless claims for the week ended May 21 and continuing claims for the week ended May 14 before the opening bell. The consensus estimates are for initial claims of 400,000, down from 409,000 in the prior week; and a decline in continuing claims to 3.7 million from 3.71 million.
The major U.S. equity indexes
on Tuesday with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
breaking a streak of three straight declining sessions with a 0.3% gain.
The action showed signs of sector rotation as consumer staples like
Procter & Gamble
( KFT), and
were weak and the energy, materials and industrial names --
among the blue chips -- posted smart gains with crude oil again topping $100 per barrel.
Jim Cramer cheered the move, saying it "fits the thesis that the industrials have gotten oversold and the staples overbought" in commentary on
S&P Equity Research's Sam Stovall got bearish in the near-term on Thursday, saying a correction of 10% or more is a "very real possibility" over the next month or so from a technical perspective, saying: "The global equity markets continue to wrestle with the paradox of rising earnings estimates and declining global economic growth indicators: bond yields, commodity prices and equity returns."
For Stovall, the action in the financials is particularly worrisome.
"The Financials Index has broken key chart support from the March and April lows, and has dropped to its lowest level since December 2010," he said. "Also, the sector's relative performance versus the "500" has been deteriorating gradually since Aug. 2009, and is currently at its lowest level since April 2009."
The bank sell-off has accelerated in May and the year-to-date returns for the majority of the big names in the group show the damage.
Bank of America
is down 14%;
is off 14%;
, has fallen 10%;
has lost 19%; and
, is down 13.5%. Only
is bucking the trend, ticking lower on a percentage basis.
The earnings action on Thursday is light with just four
components set to report:
, projected to earn 72 cents a share in its fiscal fourth quarter ended in April on revenue of $2.87 billion;
, expected to post a profit of 69 cents a share for its first quarter on revenue of $1.23 billion;
, seen earning 51 cents a share on revenue of $845 million in the April quarter; and
, projected to earn 57 cents a share for its latest quarter on revenue of $704 million.
Heinz shares have gained 8% so far in 2011, and Wall Street is in wait-and-see mode with 11 of the 19 analysts covering the stock rating it at hold. The 12-month median price target sits at $53, so valuation appears to be a sticking point as the shares closed Wednesday's regular session at $53.39. The company has topped the average analysts' view in eight straight quarters with the average beat coming in at 5%.
In contrast to the strong IPO action that marked last week's debut of
and the opening day surge of
had a flattish first day of trading on Wednesday, and now comes news that
has priced its offering below range
, selling 43.5 million shares at $18 each vs. its $22-$24 projection.
Not a very bullish sign for tomorrow's return to the public markets for Freescale, a former Motorola spin-off that was taken private by a group of buyout firms including
in 2006 in a massive $17.6 billion deal.
And finally, Thursday has been proclaimed "Dow Jones Industrial Average Day" in New York City to recognize the blue-chip index's 115th anniversary so feel free to show some appreciation for "the most recognizable, most frequently quoted, and longest-serving market indicator of its kind" as Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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