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Wall Street Treads Nervous Path Ahead Of Jobs Data


Wall Street remains poised for a lackluster start, as traders battle with economic fears and crave for further clarity on the outlook for the year. More clarity on the domestic job market is likely to come from the U.S. non-farm payrolls report due before the market open. Given the strength suggested by recent labor market indicators, expectations about a positive number are ruling high. The impending Italian and Spanish debt auctions later in the week may also introduce some caution.

As of 6:30 am ET, the Dow futures are up 0.06 percent, the S&P 500 futures are gaining 0.03 percent and the Nasdaq 100 futures are adding 0.18 percent.

U.S. stocks turned in another lackluster performance on Thursday, as traders had to confront multiple catalysts.

The Labor Department is scheduled to release its monthly non-farm payroll report at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect non-farm payrolls for December to increase by 150,000, but they expect the unemployment rate to edge up to 8.7 percent. In November, the economy added 120,000 and the unemployment rate fell notably to 8.6 percent.

A quartet of Fed speeches is scheduled to be delivered during the day.

In corporate news, Hansen Natural (HNSN) said it received stockholders' approval at a special meeting to change its corporate name to Monster Beverage Corp. The company's shares will start trading under its new name and ticker symbol "MNST", effective January 9, 2012.

Quiksilver (ZQK) announced the resignation of its CFO Joe Scirocco following his decision to pursue other interests.

Advent Software (ADVS) announced that its board has appointed Peter Hess as its CEO and President, effective June 30, 2010.

Integra LifeSciences (IART) released preliminary fourth quarter results, expecting revenues of $202 million to $203 million, which is lower than the low end of its previous guidance. The company attributed the shortfall to inventory reduction initiatives by its instruments distributors, weakness outside the U.S. and weaker than expected sales of its domestic extremity reconstruction products.

Family Dollar Stores (FDO) reported first quarter earnings of 68 cents per share on revenues of $2.148 billion. The earnings were in line with estimates. The company reaffirmed its 2012 earnings guidance of $3.50-$3.75 per share.

Shoe Carnival (SCVL) lowered its fourth quarter and full year guidance below consensus estimates, citing the anticipated weakness to a drop in boots sales.
Apollo Group (APOG) announced first quarter earnings that declined from last year, yet beat consensus estimate. For 2012, the company expects net revenues of $4.1 billion to $4.3 billion, surrounding the $4.26 billion consensus estimate.

Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) reported that its December same store sales were flat, while the combined November and December same store sales were minus 1 percent through December 31, 2011.

RF Micro Devices (RFMD) issued below-consensus revenue estimate for its third quarter, attributing the predicament to softer customer.

Global Payments (GPN) said its second quarter cash earnings per share rose to 86 cents per share from 76 cents per share last year, missing the 81 cents per share estimate. Revenues grew 20 percent to $530.5 million.

The Asian markets closed mostly lower, although the Indian, Chinese and Singaporean markets bucked the downtrend. European fears roiled the markets, stifling any kind of buying interest.

Japan's Nikkei 225 average ended down 98.36 points or 1.16 percent at 8,390 and Australia's All Ordinaries lost 32.10 points or 0.76 percent before closing at 4,165. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index retreated 220.35 points or 1.17 percent to 18,593.

Meanwhile, European markets are trading mixed, as bargain hunting after 2 days of losses has resulted in some buying. The French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are adding 0.51 percent and 0.30 percent, while Germany's DAX Index is little changed.

Oil and gold futures are firmer, while the euro is almost flat against the greenback.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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