Futures Look For Direction After German Data and Downgrades. Stocks to Watch: KORS, FRO, AVP, NFLX, RAX, AAPL, ZNGA

Investors are looking for direction today after they received two pieces of conflicting news. Moody’s went on a downgrade spree in Europe after the close yesterday, while German investor sentiment numbers improved. Currently, Dow futures are are down 3 points to 12,832. Nasdaq 100 futures are slightly in positive territory, up .25 to 2,568. The S&P 500 futures are down .75 points 1,348.25.

Domestically, the economic data calendar is full today. At 8:30am EST, retail sales numbers will be released. January import prices are due at the same time. Expectations are for an increase of .9%. Analysts are pointing towards gains in car-sales and chain-stores.

At 10am, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Finance Committee regarding President’s Obama’s budget. Undoubtedly this will be a partisan circus act with the GOP looking to score political points in the run-up to the election.

Asian stocks fell on the Moody’s downgrade news. Europe also fell for a short time, but it was reversed with the German data. The Stoxx 600 Europe is currently up .15 points as investors look for any silver lining in the ongoing EU soap opera.

In commodities trading is mixed. Gold prices are slipping this morning, down $8.30 to $1,716.60. Nymex crude futures are continuing their march above $100 per barrel, up 30 cents to $101.21.

Stocks to watch today include Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (NYSE:KORS), Frontline Ltd. (NYSE:FRO), Avon Porducts, Inc. (NYSE:AVP), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA).

Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NYSE:KORS) is up 13.51% in pre market trading at $38.15. KORS shares look to be active as the company is expected to report earnings later today. The stock is up more than $10 since the start of the year. KORS trades about 2.2 million shares a day on average. The company has a market cap of 6.41 billion.

Frontline Ltd. (NYSE:FRO) is up 2.84% in pre market trading at $4.71. FRO shares have been in a decline over the past week, dropping from $5.20 to around $4.60. FRO is still up on the year after trading below $4.20 a share in early January. The company has a market cap of 356.59 million.

Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP) is down 3.14% in pre market trading at $16.98. AVP trades 5.8 million shares a day on average. AVP shares are down some this morning after reporting fourth quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations. Avon’s EPS was $0.39 per share, analysts were expecting $0.53 per share. The company has a market cap of 7.55 billion.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is up 0.51% in pre market trading at $118.90. NFLX shares have dipped more than $10 over the past week after the stock jumped more than $60 over the past month or so. NFLX trades about 8.6 million shares a day on average and has a market cap of 6.55 billion.

Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX) is up 9.89% in pre market trading at $54.10. RAX shares are heading higher this morning on positive fourth quarter results. Rackspace saw revenue increase 7.1% to $283 million. Profit came in at $0.18 per share, beating estimates of $0.15 per share. The company has a market cap of 6.45 billion.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is up 0.28% in pre market trading at $504.00. AAPL shares have finally hit the elusive $500 mark. Reports are coming out that Apple will be announcing the iPad 3 sometime in March and will go on sale soon after. AAPL trades 12.4 million shares a day on average and has a market cap of 468.61 billion.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is up 1.57% in pre market trading at $13.63. ZNGA shares continue their upward trend and are up nearly $5 over the past month. Zynga has been rallying thanks to all the coverage the Facebook IPO was getting a few weeks ago. Zynga’s success is closely tied to Facebook’s success as the game maker releases its games on Facebook. The company has a market cap of 9.38 billion.

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About Martin Stephenson

An avid market watcher, Martin enjoys the tech arena the most with the Nasdaq being his main area of focus. A finance major, Martin is working to the goal of one day ringing the bell at the NYSE.

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