***Economic Data*** - (CL) Chile Jan Trade Balance: $2.1B v $1.7Be - (IR) Ireland Jan Consumer Confidence: 64.6 v 53.3 prior - (CA) Canada Jan Housing Starts: 186.3K v 179.0Ke
- Trading has been choppy this morning given the absence of any economic data or major corporate earnings. With earnings season winding down and the calendar light of major data reports, traders await Ben Bernanke's House testimony on Wednesday, when many expect the Fed chairman to offer more details on the Fed's exit strategy. Note in his speech this morning, FOMC voting member Bullard, suggested the Fed could begin to sell some assets as early as the second half of this year. US indices have spent much of the morning in the red before climbing to post small gains across the board. Commodity prices are finding some traction after a third straight week of steep declines. Front-month crude is higher by more than 1% while gold is up closer to 2%.
- CVS is strong this morning, up more than 6% after meeting expectations in its Q4 report and in its forward-looking 2010 guidance. Note that the CFO said CVS would generate significantly more free cash and return it to shareholders over the next several years. Hasbro is up more than 10% after blowing out earnings estimates. Lolliard is flat on firmly in line results. Lowe's is in the red after missing targets slightly. Analysts at Baird raised ratings on Winnebago to Neutral from Underperform following competitor Thor Industries release of very strong preliminary Q2 revenues and strong quarterly RV sales data last week. Shares of WGO are up around 10%.
- Shares of Nasdaq are down 2% on the firm's solidly in line quarterly results. Mid-cap insurance name CNA Financial beat EPS expectations, although shares of CNA fell 4% in early trading, before recovering much of their losses. CIT is up 4% on news that the board has elected former Merrill Lynch chief John Thain as its CEO.
- Price action in the greenback is little changed from opening levels seen in Asia. European officials continue to say they would cut spending if growth fell short of targets. With the lack of economic data scheduled for the near future, the dollar's price action likely to again center on equities.
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