Stock Futures Point Higher on Earnings Optimism, Stocks to Watch: NOK, MLNX, VZ, SIRI, EBAY, ZNGA

Wall StreetUS markets are looking to extend gains into a third day as investors were becoming more optimistic about earnings season. Investors were shrugging off poor results out of Morgan Stanley and were instead looking at beats in several tech companies.

A quick snapshot of the major indices has the Dow up .4%, the Nasdaq .7% and the S&P .5%.

The Fed Chairman wrapped his congressional testimony yesterday and barring any dramatic event, the likelihood of a renewed QE program looks dim before the presidential election. The Fed did say it stood ready to use any tools at its disposal to help with fight against any economic downturn.

The Eu saga continued overnight with a Spanish bond auction seeing lackluster demand. Yields also approached the 7% level. A Parliament vote in Germany is expected to pass the Spanish bailout measure later today.

Commodities are following the overall market higher this morning. Oil has firmly regained its footing above $90 per barrel. Nymex crude futures are up $1.37 to $91.24 as middle east tensions ratchet up once again.

Gold prices are also edging higher with gold futures up over $15 to $1588.20 per ounce. [Read more...]

US Futures Being Dragged Down By Europe. Stocks to Watch: PLCM, WDC, VMW, BAC, AAPL, YHOO, VZ

With major earnings coming out today, Wall Street is being dominated again by uncertainty coming out of Europe. The lack of any meaningful bond-swap deal in Greece is sending the futures lower. Dow futures are down 46 points to 12, 606. Nasdaq futures are shedding nearly 9 points, and the S&P 500 is down 6.50 points to 1,304.50.

Greece continues to march to towards a default deadline in March. The lack of any deal by then could force the nation into default as a series of bods mature in the month. A demand by private creditors for a 4% coupon on any new bonds was soundly rejected by EU officials as too high. The sent the banking-heavy Stoxx 600 index down nearly a percent, and is pressuring US futures as we near the open.

Domestically all eyes will be on the FOMC meeting today. With economic data improving, some analysts believe it will tie the Fed’s hands when it comes to a new round of QE. Other analysts point out that with CPI moderating, it could give them cover to extend the stimulus program.

In earnings, McDonald’s and Johnson and Johnson are slated to report today. McDonald’s is expected to post a fourth-quarter profit of $1.30 a share on sales of $6.81 billion. Johnson and Johnson is expected to post fourth-quarter earnings of $1.09 per share on $16.28 billion in revenue.

In Asia, shares of the main Indian stock market soared after their central bank cut banking reserve requirements. This was done to ease the burgeoning liquidity crisis in the country. Japan was boosted by energy producers, while the Chinese New Year kept markets closed in China.

Gold prices are being kept in check by the strength of the dollar today. After a near constant run-up since the start of 2012, gold prices are down just over $10 to $1665.50.

Oil futures continue to have little reaction to the Iranian oil embargo instituted yesterday. Most of this is due to the fact it does not start for six months and Europe left themselves a sizable escape hatch. Nymex futures are down 31 cents to $99.26.

Stocks to watch today include Polycom Inc. (NASDAQ:PLCM), Western Digital Company (NYSE:WDC), VMware Inc. (NYSE:VMW), Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)

Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLCM) is up 12.38% in pre market trading at $20.75. PLCM shares are jumping this morning after the company released its fourth quarter earnings yesterday. Polycom saw fourth quarter profit rise 50%. Its adjusted earnings came in at $0.41 per share, beating analysts’ estimates of $0.29 per share. For the first quarter, Polycom is expecting revenue to decline 2% because of its efforts to ‘realign’ its North American sales force. The company has a market cap of 3.26 billion.

Western Digital Corporation (NYSE:WDC) is up 4.75% in pre market trading at $36.33. WDC shares are rising following second quarter results from the company. Western Digital saw adjusted EPS of $1.51, beating estimates of $0.71. The company expects third quarter EPS to be around $1.15-$1.45 with analysts estimating $0.91. The company has a market cap of 8.11 billion.

VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW) is up 4.19% in pre market trading at $89.60. VMW stock is rallying after the company reported sales and profit that beat Wall Street estimates. Revenue increased by 27% from a year ago to $1.06 billion and posted a profit of $0.62 per share. Analysts were expecting $0.60 per share in profit. The company has a market cap of 36.31 billion.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) is down 1.79% in pre market trading at $7.12. BAC shares are slipping as the entire market is set to open lower due to uncertainty in Europe. BAC typically trades 271.7 million shares a day on average. The company has a market cap of 76.39 billion.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is down 0.40% in pre market trading at $425.72. AAPL is set to report quarterly results after the closing bell today. AAPL trades 12.5 million shares a day on average. The stock has been trading between a range of $420 and $430 for about a week now as investors wait for their quarter results to come in. The company has a market cap of 397.24 billion.

Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is trading slightly down in pre market trading at $15.65. YHOO trades 21.7 million shares a day on average. YHOO will announced their latest quarterly results later today and analysts are expecting to see EPS of $0.24 with revenue at $1.19 billion. The company has a market cap of 19.45 billion.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is down 1.95% in pre market trading at $37.65. VZ shares are taking a hit today after Verizon posted a $2 billion fourth quarter loss on pension adjustment. Verizon EPS came in at $0.52 per share with analysts expecting $0.53 per share. Revenue increased 7.7% from a year ago to $28.4 billion. The company has a market cap of 108.71 billion.

Verizon Says No To Google Wallet On Galaxy Nexus

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will not have Google Inc’s. (NASDAQ:GOOG) payment app, Google Wallet, on the latest Galaxy Nexus this month according to the Wall Street Journal. The Galaxy Nexus is being developed by Google and Samsung and uses Google’s android based software.

Google Wallet is an app that allows users to make payments, redeem digital coupons and earn points with merchants. This app allows Google to compete in the local-business advertising market.

This move by Verizon comes as they have formed a joint venture with AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile for a system called Isis that allows people to do the same thing the Google Wallet does. A Google spokesman was quoted as saying, “Verizon asked us not to include this functionality in the product.”

It looks like Verizon and the other cell phone carriers want to push Isis hard and don’t want any competition on the phones.

Verizon Communications Inc. is down slightly in pre-market trading at $38.01. VZ has jumped nearly $2 a share in the past five trading sessions.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is down 0.08% in pre-market trading at $625.13. GOOG is up more about $40 a share in the past five trading days.

AT&T Tries to Salvage T-Mobile Deal

During the Thanksgiving week both AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile hinted their merger may be off. This comes after an antitrust suit from the Department of Justice and a hearing on the merger by the FCC. On Thursday, AT&T said it is no longer seeking approval for merger from the FCC. The company then prepared $4 billion to cover the break-up fee with Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile.

Fast forward to today and AT&T is considering an offer to divest a larger portion of assets than it initially thought. The exact size hasn’t been determined but, it is being reported as much as 40% of T-Mobile’s U.S. assets. This is an attempt to address the concerns from the Justice Department which filed an antitrust suit back in August saying the AT&T/T-Mobile deal would “substantially lessen competition.”

This newest proposal could be heard as early as November 30 at the next Justice Department hearing. Many see this as the only remaining option for the merger if AT&T wants to avoid a lengthy legal battle in order to become the country’s top mobile carrier.

AT&T could also wait and see what happens after the next election. If Republicans win, they would have a better shot of getting past antitrust issues since Republicans are more lenient on antitrust laws.

AT&T’s main competitors in the cell phone space are Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S).

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