RTTNews - After a considerable pullback in the previous session, stocks are poised for a modestly higher open on Friday, as traders digest the latest batch of earnings and corporate news amid an otherwise light day on the economic front. The major futures indices are all in positive territory, with Dow futures up by 43 points.
Trading is likely to be subdued after a lackluster week on Wall Street, as traders raced to the sidelines following the recent run-up in equities.
In the news, automaker General Motors Corp. (GM) may be sent into bankruptcy protection by the U.S. government as early as the end of next week, according to the Washington Post.
Under the tentative bankruptcy plan, GM reportedly could receive just short of $30 billion in additional federal loans, pushing the government's investment in the automaker to nearly $45 billion. The report stated that the planned capital injection was just a starting point in discussions and could change.
The move comes as the Obama administration is preparing to lift Chrysler LLC out of bankruptcy next week.
American International Group (AIG) said its Chairman and CEO Edward Liddy, who led the uphill task of reinstating confidence in the minds of investors, intends to step down once the board finds a successor. Liddy was also instrumental in persuading the Board to accept and segregate the roles of Chairman and CEO, and will have a separate Chairman and CEO now.
Diversified healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Thursday said it agreed to acquire a development stage biopharmaceutical company, Cougar Biotechnology Inc. (CGRB), for about $1.0 billion in a cash tender offer. Following the news, Cougar's shares are up 15.2 percent in pre-market trading.
On the earnings front, Sears Holdings (SHLD) announced a surprising first-quarter profit Friday morning, even as revenues dived $1 billion. The firm reported adjusted of $0.38 cents a share, beating the consensus estimate for a loss of $0.88 cents a share.
Shares are up following the report, climbing by 21.3 percent in pre-market trading.
Retailer Gap Inc. (GPS) reported first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Thursday. The firm announced net income of $215 million or $0.31 per share, compared to $249 million or $0.34 per share in the same quarter last year. Wall Street analysts expected the company to earn $0.30 per share for the quarter. The stock rose following the report, up by 2.6 percent in pre-market trading.
Campbell Soup (CPB), the world's largest soup maker, said Thursday after the markets closed that its third quarter profit dropped 67 percent from last year when results were boosted by a hefty gain from the sale of the Godiva Chocolatier business. However, the company's quarterly earnings per share, excluding special items, came in above analysts' expectations. The company also raised its fiscal year 2009 adjusted earnings outlook.
Shares of Campbell Soup are 3.1 percent in pre-market trading as investors continue to react to the report.
In other news, the Office of Thrift Supervision announced Thursday the closing of Florida-based BankUnited FSB, and named the FDIC as receiver. Investors led by John Kanas invested $900 million to acquire the new BankUnited, making it one of Florida's best capitalized banks.
Thursday, the major averages all closed in firmly negative territory as trader optimism dampened following the release of largely disappointing economic data. The Dow closed down by 129.91 at 8292.13, the Nasdaq finished down by 32.59 at 1695.25, and the S&P 500 also fell, closing down by 15.14 at 888.33.
In early commodities trading, crude oil futures are up $0.65 to $61.70, while gold futures are also on the rise, up by $6.60 to $957.80 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar set a fresh five month low against the euro, falling to 1.3988 while dropping to a seven month low against the pound, slipping to 1.5926. Meanwhile, the buck is testing March lows against the yen, falling to 94.00 in early morning dealing in New York.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished lower on Friday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 0.4 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are seeing some gains after yesterday's retreat. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are up by 1.1 and 1.2 percent, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is modestly higher, rising by 1.0 percent.
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