Dow -35 S&P -1 NASDAQ -11.6 - The NASDAQ and positive tech earnings pushed US equities to a higher open as volumes shot up in a big way on options expiration. But much of the gains have been relinquished though tech continue to outperform. The dollar remains robust as strange news about Iranian soldiers entering Iraq made the rounds, although front month crude is way off earlier highs above $74 that were seen in the wake of this news, to trade below the $73 handle. Note that Meredith Whitney was out with another big downgrade of bank estimates, JP Morgan this time around, although have been unaffected. In addition, BoA/Merrill Lynch discussed the possibility of a "Valentine's day massacre" market correction in Q1 that could stem from the end of the Treasury's MBS buying program or other factors. US Bond prices are marginally lower with the benchmark yield remaining right at the 3.5% mark.
- Three significant tech names reported yesterday after the close. Oracle reported Q2 results that were slightly ahead of consensus estimates and guided its Q3 in line with expectations. Executive said they expect the European Commission to clear Oracle's acquisition of Sun, and said the deal would improve market share and margins after closing. Research in Motion was also a bit ahead of the consensus in its Q3, and guided above par for its Q4. Shipments were strong, up more than 20% sequentially, and new subscribers grew by more than 12% over last quarter. Competitor Palm offered mixed results in its Q2, with a bigger than expected quarterly loss and revenue slightly ahead of the consensus view. Shipments jumped on a y/y basis, although the number of smartphones it actually sold fell on y/y basis and significantly on a q/q basis.
- In other earnings, Nike was largely in line with expectations. Consultancy Accenture was in line as well, and increased its outlook for 2010 by a hair, noting that its business is picking up in key areas. Darden Restaurants' results were also in line, although the firm narrowed its 2010 guidance and warned that sales would be more sluggish next quarter than earlier anticipated. But the standout was surely Carmax, which crushed earnings expectations and beat slightly on the top line. In other news, LDK Solar cut its secondary offering of common equity by more than 2M shares and priced the offer at $7, well below recent levels. LDK's shares fell more than 11% to the offer price. Truckers CNW, ODFL and ABFS are up 4-6% as competitor YRCW gets closer to bankruptcy. Credit Suisse analysts warned that YRCW's anticipated bankruptcy would not benefit other trucking names. Celgene is up more than 10% after the firm's Phase III study of Revlimid in MM met endpoints.
- The greenback rebounded from earlier session lows aided by some jitters bubbling up in the Middle East after news that Iranian troops "briefly" entered Iraqi territory on Thursday and raised an Iranian Flag at an Iraqi oil field in Maysan province. Overall the greenback was little changed from opening levels seen in Tokyo. EUR/USD again held the 1.4300 area where some euro sell stops are said to be lurking. EUR/CHF continued to have difficulties regaining a foothold back above the 1.50 handle. The JPY remained softer against the major pairs but off its session lows.
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