Earnings are alive and well -- or at least still being reported, at any rate. Today investors are getting figures from a number of key companies, including Wal-Mart (WMT), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Home Depot (HD) and Dell (DELL). World stocks had a mixed session, but U.S. futures are pointing toward a more confident, positive start ahead of those quarterly reports and after declines at the start of the week.
Meanwhile, we're also getting the latest on the health of the housing sector with housing starts and building permits data, followed by industrial production figures later in the morning. The nation reached the legal limits of its borrowing authority, the debt ceiling, Monday as lawmakers continue to squabble about spending cuts. (Federal workers are among those expected to bear them, CNNMoney reports. )
And returning to a story that shocked the business world over the weekend, International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn remains detained in the U.S. He spent the night at New York's Rikers Island jail complex while awaiting his next court appearance on May 20 after being accused of sexual assault and attempted rape at a Manhattan hotel.
ON THE BLOGS:
* Why Lagarde Will Be the Next IMF Managing Director - Felix Salmon, via Seeking Alpha
* Two Red Flags: Russell and the Hang Seng - The Big Picture
* Will the Real "New Subprime" Please Stand Up? - The Reformed Broker, via StockTwits
* The Virtual Casino - Pragmatic Capitalism
* Will the Bear's Toehold Sink In Deeper? - Price Headley, via CBOE Blog
IN THE HEADLINES:
* Thwarted at Home, Nasdaq May Look Abroad - NYTimes
* Arends: Why I Won't Invest in Hedge Funds - MarketWatch
* The Charts Weigh in on Gold, Silver - Barrons.com
* Buffett's Silly Talk About the U.S. Debt - MarketWatch
* An Energy-Stock Wizard's Latest Picks - Barrons.com
* Chinese IPOs No Longer Sizzling - WSJ
* A Once-Tight Flock at Goldman, Now Scattered - NYTimes
STOCKS TO WATCH & KEY EARNINGS
* Wal-Mart's (WMT) first-quarter earnings beat expectations, coming in at $3.4 billion, or 97 cents a share. A year earlier, the company earned $3.3 billion, or 87 cents.
* Home Depot (HD) missed analysts' quarterly sales expectations, posting $16.82 billion on the top line vs. the $17 billion that was projected, but earnings of 50 cents a share exceeded estimates by a penny.
* Ford (F) is looking to invest $72 million to expand its powertrain facility in Chennai in support of its sales and export growth plans in India, the company said in a press release. The plant's capacity will rise to 330,000 units a year from 250,000.
* BP (BP) said a proposed $16 billion share exchange with Russia's Rosneft has fallen through. The company says talks will continue.
* LinkedIn now expects its initial public offering of nearly 8 million shares to be worth $42 to $45 each, or more than $4 billion. Previously, the company expected a range of $32 to $35.
UPGRADES & DOWNGRADES:
* NYSE Euronext (NYX) was downgraded from buy to hold at Argus Research.
* J.C. Penney (JCP) had its price target lifted at R.W. Baird by $3 to $38.
* LDK Solar (LDK) had its target price cut by $3 to $8 at Collins Stewart. Soleil lowered its estimates on the stock.
* Intuit's (INTU) target price was taken up at Jefferies by $5 to $64.
* Petrobras (PBR) was upgraded from equal weight to overweight at Barclays.
Compiled by Elizabeth Trotta and Chris Nichols.
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