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December retail sales have futures turning lower

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Stocks were set to open higher, but this morning’s December retail sales numbers came in slightly weaker than expected and have traders now looking at a mixed to lower open for equities.

The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 1.2% in December, which was slightly below economist’s forecast for a 1.5% gain. The 1.2% rise was the largest monthly gain in five months. Excluding autos, which showed a 5% jump in sales, sales would have been flat, reflecting a dismal holiday shopping season. November’s previously reported total retail sales of 0.4% was revised higher to 0.9%.

It looks to be the “ex-auto” number that has traders concerned as economist’s were expecting a 0.3% gain in the ex-auto number.

S&P futures (sp03h) are of their best levels of the morning, which saw the contract as high as 931 just before this morning’s release of December retails sales, but currently trade down 1.7 points at 924.80. NASDAQ futures (nd03h) are lower by 2 points at 1,084.50 and Dow futures (dj03h) are off 17 points at 8,760.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.18. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.62 and set for program selling at $-1.66. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $2.43.

Shares of semiconductor giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $17.38 are edging higher at $17.52 ahead of this evening’s quarterly earning’s report. The average forecast among analysts is for the company to earn $0.14 per share, which would be a penny below year ago levels.

Shares of Internet concern Overture Services (NASDAQ:OVER) $31.04 are getting hit lower at $26.90 in pre-market trading and lead this morning’s most active list after being downgraded at Soundview to “underperform” from “neutral,” saying yesterday’s pre-announcement of revenue upside is more than offset by rising traffic acquisitions costs. Late yesterday, OVER said that Q4 (December) revenues would be nearly $200 million, versus consensus of $192.5 million, due to increased traffic and click- through volume from the company’s largest partners.

Jeff Bailey

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