Dow May Reach New High as Sears Beats the Street


LONDON -- After the Dow hit a new five-year high yesterday, stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open up by 0.09% this morning, while the S&P 500 may open 0.15% higher.

Investors will be watching closely this morning as revised Q4 GDP figures are published at 8:30 a.m. EST, with consensus forecasts suggesting a 0.5% increase following the preliminary reading of -0.1%. Weekly jobless-claims numbers are also due at 8:30 a.m. EST, with no change expected from last week's reading of 362,000.

In corporate news, Sears Holdings reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $1.12 per share for the fourth-quarter on sales of $12.26 billion, beating expectations of $0.98 per share on sales of $11.77 billion. Sears' stock was up 4.3% in premarket trading this morning. Other companies due to report earnings before the markets open this morning include Wendy's, Cablevision Systems, and Barnes & Noble, which is expected to report third-quarter earnings of $0.53 per share. The bookseller recently received a buyout offer from its founder and chairman, Leonard Riggio, which could heighten investor interest in the stock.

Other companies likely to see active trading when markets open are Groupon and J. C. Penney. Groupon stock was down 27% in premarket trading this morning after the company missed forecast earnings and revealed that it is reducing its cut on daily deals in an effort to retain merchants and fend off growing competition. Meanwhile, retailer J. C. Penney reported a 28% drop in sales in its fourth-quarter results last night, sending its shares down 14% in premarket trading.

European markets
European markets made modest gains this morning after new figures showed that eurozone inflation fell to 2% in January, bringing the rolling-year average down to 1.9% and raising hopes that the European Central Bank might cut rates still further in order to boost growth.

At 7:30 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.57%, the CAC 40 was up 0.05%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.3%, and the IBEX 35 was up 0.37%. In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.4% as an 8% gain for International Consolidated Airlines (which operates British Airways and Spain's Iberia) helped offset losses for the mining sector and a 3.9% fall for Royal Bank of Scotland, which this morning reported operating profit of 6.3 billion pounds but a pre-tax loss of 5.2 billion pounds due to accounting charges and provisions.

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