RTTNews - Following a moderate pullback in the previous session, stocks are looking to open Tuesday's session on the downside as traders look to continue to take some profits ahead of this week's key economic data. The major index futures are all in negative territory, with the Dow futures down by 19 points.
This morning, traders were presented with a report from the Labor Department that showed a much bigger than expected increase in productivity in the second quarter, as hours worked fell at a faster pace than output. At the same time, the report also showed a steep drop in unit labor costs.
The report said that productivity increased by 6.4 percent in the second quarter compared to a downwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in the first quarter. Economists had expected productivity to increase by 5.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department also said that unit labor costs fell by 5.8 percent in the second quarter following a revised 2.7 percent decrease in the first quarter. The steep drop in costs exceeded the expectations of economists, who had expected a 2.5 percent drop.
Traders are also tracking the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting that begins today, although the Fed's rate decision is not expected to be revealed until Wednesday. The central bank is widely expected to keep the fed funds futures rate unchanged.
However, the Fed's commentary on growth and inflation and any additional information on quantitative easing measures have the potential to move the markets.
In corporate news, engineering company, Fluor (FLR) reported its second quarter results after the close of trading on Monday, reporting earnings that fell year-over-year but came in above analyst estimates. Revenues fell 8 percent to $5.29 billion, falling short of analysts' estimates. However, the company maintained its 2009 earnings estimate.
Virtualization software maker VMware (VMW) announced a deal to buy privately held SpringSource, a specialist in open-source Java framework, for $362 million in cash.
Tellabs (TLAB) and Laboratory Corp. (LH) announced stock buybacks, while Bunge (BG) announced a common stock offering.
Further, Sterlite Industries (SLT), a part of Vedanta Group, confirmed today that it is upwardly revising its bid for U.S. copper miner Asarco, as it attempts to prevail against a competing bid from Grupo Mexico.
Applied Materials (AMAT), Bob Evans Farms (BOBE), Creek, Inc. (CREE), Learning Tree (LTRE) and Clear wire Corp. (CLWR) are among the companies scheduled to release their results after the markets close today.
Stocks posted modest losses on Monday, as traders cashed in on recent gains amid a lack of significant news. The Dow closed down by 32 points at 9,338, the Nasdaq slipped by 8 points to 1,992 and the S&P 500 fell by 3 points to 1,007.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, moving up to $70.93 a barrel after moving modestly lower in the previous session. The price of gold is also gaining, advancing by $3.50 to $949.30 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is falling against the major European currencies, dropping to $1.4158 against the euro and slipping to $1.6500 versus the pound. The buck is also retreating versus the yen, trading at 97.17 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region largely turned in strong performances on Tuesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are moving lower, with the French CAC 40 Index falling by 0.1 percent while the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are both down by 0.3 percent.
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