U.S. To Open Lower Despite Strong Dec. Retail

by: SA Editors

At 8:40 AM EDT:

U.S. Futures

S&P 500: -2.50; 1428.5o
NASDAQ 100: -2.75; 1,847.00
Dow: -18.00; 12,548.00

International Indexes

NIKKEI 225: +1.30%; 17,057.01 (+218.84)
HANG SENG: +1.18%; 19,613.41 (+228.04)
S&P/ASX 200: +1.33%; 5,638.80 (+73.90)
BSE SENSEX 30: +3.12%; 14,056.53 (+425.82)

FTSE 100: -0.18%; 6,219.00 (-11.10)
CAC 40: +0.02%; 5,610.89 (+1.09)
XETRA-DAX: -0.03%; 6,685.13 (-2.17)

Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)

Oil: +0.91%; $52.35 (+$0.47)
Gold: -0.08%; $613.40 (-$0.50)
Natural Gas: +0.78%; $6.34 (+$0.05)
Silver: +0.24%; $12.49 (+$0.03)

Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

India Industrial Production Expands 14.4 Percent, Adding Pressure on Rates India's industrial production expanded at the fastest pace in 11 years in November, increasing pressure on the central bank to raise its key borrowing rate this month to curb inflation.

Samsung Electronics Shares Advance as Buyback Overshadows Profit Decline Samsung Electronics Co. shares had their biggest gain in almost five months after the company said it will return $2.7 billion to stockholders through buybacks and dividends, overshadowing a drop in fourth-quarter profit.

Asian Stocks Rise, Led by Toyota, Samsung on Weaker Currencies, Lower Oil Asian stocks rose the most in seven weeks, led by Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) and Samsung Electronics Co. after the region's currencies dropped against the dollar and oil prices slid to a 19-month low.

Indian Bonds Fall, Bank Stocks Gain After Debt Investment Rules Changed India's 10-year bonds fell the most in more than four years and bank shares surged after the government scrapped a requirement lenders invest at least 25 percent of their deposits in debt securities.

China's Growth Slows to 10.5 Percent, Government's Top Planning Body Says Growth in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, slowed in the fourth quarter on government measures to curb lending and investment, a statement from the top economic planning agency showed.

European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

EMI Ousts Top Two Music Executives, Cuts Revenue Forecast on Album Sales EMI Group Plc (OTC:EMIPY), the U.K. record company that signed the Beatles, ousted its two top music executives and forecast lower revenue after disappointing holiday sales.

SAP Shares Plunge Most in Four Years After Sales Miss Analysts' Estimates Shares of SAP AG (NYSE:SAP), the world's biggest business-management software company, plunged the most in four years after sales of product licenses rose less than analysts estimated.

European Stocks Advance, Paced by AstraZeneca, Bayer Shares; SAP Declines European stocks advanced on speculation shares in the region are still cheap relative to the outlook for economic and earnings growth.

King's Surprise May Be Followed by Trichet; Bernanke Wary of Cutting Rates Bank of England Governor Mervyn King once famously said that interest-rate policy should be ``boring.'' Yesterday he flunked the test.

Unilever Names Michael Treschow as Chairman From May, to Succeed Burgmans Unilever (NYSE:UN), the world's second-biggest food and detergent maker, named Michael Treschow as its first outside chairman as the company struggles to boost sales.

U.S. Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

U.S. December Retail Sales Rose 0.9%; Up 1.0% Excluding Autos Retail sales in the U.S. rose more than expected in December, capping the strongest back-to-back gains in almost a year, as growing incomes and holiday discounts kept Americans shopping.

GE May Buy Health, Oil Exploration Companies With Plastics-Unit Proceeds General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) may use proceeds from selling its plastics unit to buy health-care technology developers as well as energy service and equipment makers to tap faster-growing markets.

Wachovia, Regions Financial May Lead Bank Profit Gains After Acquisitions Wachovia Corp. (NASDAQ:WB) and Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE:RF) probably led fourth-quarter profit growth for U.S. regional banks after making two of the industry's biggest acquisitions last year.

U.S. Retail Sales Probably Rose in December on Higher Incomes, Discounting An increase in U.S. retail sales last month capped the strongest back-to-back gains in almost a year, as growing incomes and holiday discounts kept Americans shopping, economists said before a report today.

Oil Rises From 19-Month Low as Technical Indicator Shows Prices May Climb Crude oil rose from a 19-month low in New York after some traders said this week's drop in oil prices wasn't justified. Some analysts expect OPEC's members to cut production to stop prices from declining.

Stock-Index Futures Are Little Changed; Advanced Micro Slides, Exxon Gains U.S. stock-index futures were little changed. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) tumbled in Europe after saying fourth-quarter profit fell as its larger rival Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC) cut prices to win over buyers of personal-computer processors.