U.S. To Start Higher On Positive Oracle Earnings, Falling Crude Prices

by: SA Editors

At 8:25 AM EDT:

U.S. Futures

S&P 500: +4.30; 1,334.80
NASDAQ: +12.00; 1,654.50
DOW: +40.00; 11,665.00

International Indexes

NIKKEI 225: -0.98%; 15,718.67 (-155.61)
HANG SENG: +0.96%; 17,512.96 (+166.26)
S&P/ASX 200: -1.15%; 4,998.50 (-58.30)
BSE SENSEX 30: +1.16%; 12,109.14 (+138.67)

FTSE 100: +0.60%; 5,867.00 (+35.20)
CAC 40: +1.06%; 5,170.23 (+54.24)
XETRA-DAX: +1.14%; 5,940.37 (+66.91)

Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)

Oil: -1.61%; $60.67 (-$0.99)
Gold: -0.46%; $580.90 (-$2.70)
Natural Gas: -2.82%; $4.86 (-$0.14)
Silver: -0.82%; $10.855 (-$0.09)

Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

coupThai Baht, Bonds Slump After Military Coup; Bangkok Stock Market Closed Thailand's currency fell and the country's credit ratings were put on review for possible downgrade after the military seized control of Bangkok (pictured), ousting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thai Stock Exchange, Banks, Government Offices Ordered Shut by Military The Stock Exchange of Thailand, government departments and Thai banks were ordered to close today in the wake of a coup, military leaders said in a statement broadcast on Thai television.

Asian Stocks Fall on Thai Coup, U.S. Economy Concerns; Honda, Rinker Drop Asian stocks fell by the most in more than a week after the military seized power in Thailand. Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. paced declines among companies with investments in the country.

Abe Says China Military Outlays a Concern; Aims to Speed Up Koizumi Reform Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister in waiting, said China's military spending is a "concern," and improving diplomatic relations between the two countries will require as much effort from Beijing as Tokyo.

India Finance Minister Chidambaram Says 'Not Comfortable' With Inflation India's inflation "is not at a comfortable level," Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said, adding that three interest rate increases this year haven't done enough to tame loans growth.

European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

European Stocks Rise as Oil Declines, Led by DaimlerChrysler, BASF Shares European stocks rose as oil fell to near a six-month low, easing concern energy costs will weigh on earnings growth. DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX), the world's fifth-largest car maker, and chemical company BASF AG (BF) climbed.

SAP Says Oracle 'Misleads' Customers About SAP's Products, Acquisitions SAP AG (NYSE:SAP), the world's largest maker of business-management software, said rival Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCL) is "misleading" customers by saying SAP will step up acquisitions and delay products in response to falling market share.

Inditex Profit Advances 19 Percent on New Zara, Bershka Stores in Europe Inditex SA, Europe's largest clothing retailer, had a 19 percent gain in second-quarter profit after the company added Zara and Bershka stores outside its home market of Spain.

Aalberts, IMI Among Companies Fined $399 Million for Fixing Copper Price Aalberts Industries NV, Europe's largest maker of water and gas fittings, and 29 other companies were fined a total of 314.7 million euros ($399 million) for colluding to fix prices for copper fittings used in plumbing and heating. Aalberts shares fell as much as 12 percent.

U.S. Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Oracle Reports Q1 GAAP EPS Up 28% to 13 Cents, Non-GAAP EPS Up 24% to 18 Cents Oracle Corporation (ORCL) yesterday announced fiscal 2007 Q1 GAAP earnings per share were up 28% to $0.13, compared to the same quarter last year.

Citadel Is in Talks to Take Over Amaranth's Energy Investments, People Say Citadel Investment Group LLC is in talks to take over some energy trades from Amaranth Advisors LLC, the hedge fund whose wrong-way bets lost about $4.6 billion this month, two people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Fed Officials May Keep Rate Steady, Differ on Cost of Combating Inflation Federal Reserve policy makers will probably keep interest rates unchanged for a second month today as they remain divided over the costs of clamping down on inflation.

Mortgage Applications Increase to Highest Since April on Lower Loan Costs Mortgage applications in the U.S. increased last week to the highest level since April as borrowing costs close to a five-month low spurred refinancing.

Circuit City Net Income Surges on Sales Gains for Flat-Panel TVs, Laptops Circuit City Stores Inc. (NYSE:CC), the second-biggest U.S. electronics retailer, said second-quarter profit rose as the company sold more flat-panel televisions and laptop computers.

U.S. Wake Up Call (via Briefing.com)


The market is poised to start the session on a positive note thanks to a reassuring earnings report from Oracle (ORCL) and the continuing slide in oil prices. The positive disposition also comes ahead of today's FOMC meeting where the Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

The coup in Thailand continues to draw added attention, but as the futures market indicates, there isn't much fear that Thailand's problems will be systemic or the start of something bigger like they were during the 1997 Asian currency crisis that began with the devaluation of the Thai baht. Thailand's stock exchange was closed, but otherwise, there hasn't been much fallout in the emerging market indexes.

There has been plenty of fallout, though, in the energy market since prices hit $80 per barrel at contract highs in July. Today, the October contract is down another $0.77 at $60.89 per barrel as traders continue to abandon speculative long positions in the face of bearish inventory data, a tame hurricane season, an easing of geopolitical tensions with Iran, and the huge losses suffered by hedge fund Amaranth Advisors with its bets on the natural gas market.

In contrast, Oracle's stock will be headed higher today after the database and applications software provider topped fiscal first quarter estimates and beat its chest about achieving market share gains at the expense of rival SAP (SAP). The latter company issued a prepared statement that indicated Oracle wasn't telling the truth in describing SAP's product and acquisition strategy. Regardless, Oracle's news is being viewed as a source of support for the broader market along with a solid earnings report from Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) and Inco's (NYSE:N) upward revision to its third quarter EPS outlook.

From an earnings standpoint, Masco (NYSE:MAS) is the one, true earnings disappointment. The company, citing an accelerated decline in housing starts, warned FY06 EPS may be closer to $2.25-2.30 (consensus $2.44) versus prior guidance of being at the lower end of its $2.40-2.50 guidance range.

The FOMC decision is due around 14:15 ET. The market's attention will be centered on the accompanying policy statement.

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