NEW YORK (
) -- Wall Street got the bazooka it's been waiting for, and the
Whether this plan is the right plan
wasn't overly impressed in its commentary earlier in the day, basically saying the extraordinary cooperative effort of the world's major central banks will relieve some pressure but it doesn't actually solve anything.
"These actions are intended to lower the cost of U.S. dollar funding but they obviously do not address the underlying cause of the rise in funding costs, particularly for European banks," the firm said. "We continue to believe that expanded bond purchases by the ECB will be required to temporarily stabilize Eurozone debt markets."
The bulls aren't too worried about that right now though and the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
is back above 12,000 again after enjoying its best day on both a point and percentage basis since March 23, 2009 when stocks started to work their way back from the shocks of the financial crisis.
From a trading perspective, the major U.S. equity indices may have some room to run over the next few weeks with the immediate worries about Europe salved and economic data seemingly on the upswing.
So what happens tomorrow?
notes that Wednesday marked the ninth time since the start of 2010 that the
has posted a one-day gain of 3% or more, and that the market has opened lower the next morning in six of the previous eight instances. Overall, the S&P 500 has managed to close higher the next day 63% of the time ( five for eight). The data suggests investors should wait for the open to shake out before jumping in.
"The best buying opportunity has been a half hour after the market opens, on average theS&P 500 has a median gain of 23 bps from 10:00 AM to the close an positive 75% of the time," the firm said.
Thursday's scheduled news includes a generous helping of earnings news for this time of the year, as well as another glimpse of the jobs picture ahead of Friday's November employment report.
reports its fiscal third-quarter results before opening bell, and the average estimate of analysts polled by
is for a profit of 32 cents a share in the October-ended period on revenue of $20.4 billion.
Shares of the Cincinnati-based supermarket operator rose 3.7% to close at $23.18 on Wednesday, but the stock is down roughly 5% in the past year. Since hitting a 52-week high of $25.85 on July 20, the shares have lost 8%. Kroger has beat the consensus view in the past three quarters, delivering an average upside surprise of 7%.
Wall Street is fairly bullish on Kroger with 13 of the 21 analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (8) or buy (5) and the median 12-month price target sitting at $26. BMO Capital is in the bull camp with an outperform rating but the firm thinks softness in the shares of late reflects significant skepticism ahead of the numbers.
Judging from the stock's recent weakness, investors appear to be preparing for a disappointing quarter," BMO said in a Nov. 23 research note when Kroger shares dipped below $22. "As a reminder, the company indicated 3Q EPS would not increase by the 6%-8% goal given the tax benefit in last year's 3Q."
BMO is looking for earnings of 30 cents a share from Kroger, 2 cents below the average analysts' view, and expects same-store sales growth of 5.3%.
"Our more conservative EPS estimate (vs. consensus) seems appropriate given the ongoingchallenges in the environment, including high inflation, high gas prices, instability of financial markets, and mixed consumer confidence," the firm said. "Gas margins, however, have remained strong (at 19.3¢ according to OPIS), likely providing some EPS buffer."
Points of interest on the conference call, according to BMO, will include management commentary on the "competitive environment, the expected pace of supercenter openings in FY2012, the company's ability to pass on inflation, and details on the selling gross margin decline."
Thursday's earnings calendar also features
Barnes & Noble
in the morning.
The p.m. reporters include
Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance
The headliner for Thursday's economic data is weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET as usual with the consensus view at 390,000, according to
. The November ISM index is due at 10 a.m. ET, along with construction spending for October, followed by auto and truck sales in the afternoon.
Wednesday's much better than anticipated ADP report got overwhelmed a bit, given the euphoria about the global central bank cooperation effort, and that's probably a good thing. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at
High Frequency Economics
, says the November ADP number typically benefits from a seasonal adjustment quirk so the market shouldn't get too excited.
While the consensus was at 130,000, the ADP report said the private sector added 206,000 in November, which Shepherdson notes was the best reading since March 2010. He says the
number is probably around 140,000, which is "an improvement, given the 115Kaverage in three months to Oct, but not quite as spectacular as the headline appears."
"The danger now is that the big headline ramps up expectations for Friday and disappointment ensues," adds Shepherdson, who is forecasting a headline number of 125,000 for the November jobs report with private payrolls at 150,000.
The current consensus estimates are at 123,000 and 141,000 respectively, with the unemployment rate seen stuck at 9%. For its part,
is expects the numbers to fall short on Friday with its predictions at 75,000 and 110,000.
Overall though Shepherdson is optimistic about the trend in the employment picture.
"The key point, though, is that the economy has proved itself capable of robust job growth in the very recent past, so we refute completely the idea that payroll gains of 100-to-150K are the 'new normal,'" he says. "Under the right conditions, the U.S. can and will do much better."
Shepherdson is forecasting payroll gains will climb back above 200K by the end of the first quarter "provided a European implosion can be more or less contained across the Atlantic."
could be in the spotlight again on Thursday with the latest media reports saying that
have agreed to team up with
to pursue buying the Internet search and content company outright. Yahoo! shares rose more than 4% in late trades, reaching $16.40.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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