Ahead of Wall Street - November 21, 2012


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Greece needs more funds to keep its bailout on track and European leaders couldn’t agree today how to provide the beleaguered nation with more money. On the home front, the weekly Jobless Claims data dropped, but remained elevated due to lingering effects of the East
Coast storms. But all of this will likely not have much bearing on today’s trading session due to thin volumes ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
We also have the final read for the University of Michigan sentiment survey for November coming out a little later, with the measure expected to reach its highest level since 2007. This is a positive sign for the holiday shopping season, but makes one wonder why consumers are in such upbeat mood if the business community is supposedly on edge due to the looming ‘Fiscal Cliff’ issue.
Weekly Jobless Claims numbers dropped 41K last week 410K from an upward revised 451K (originally reported at 439K). The four-week average, which smoothes out week-to-week volatility, increased by 9.5K to 396.3K. As was the case last week, the claims data is still showing Sandy-related distortions. We will have to wait a few more weeks to get ‘cleaner’ jobless claims data undistorted by the storm.
The third quarter earnings season is coming to a close, though we still have a handful of companies still to report results. Including this morning’s negative surprise from Deere & Company (DE) and Salesforce.com’s (CRM) positive surprise after the close on Tuesday, we have results from 489 companies in the S&P 500. Total earnings for these companies are up 0.1% from the same period last year, with 62.2% of the total beating earnings expectations. Total revenues for these companies are down 0.6% and only 38.9% have come out with positive revenue surprises.

This has been the weakest quarterly earnings season since the current earnings cycle got underway in 2009. Estimates for the fourth quarter have come down since the third quarter reporting season got underway, but expectations for 2013 still remain elevated.

Sheraz Mian
Director of Research

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