Wednesday, May 4, 2011

US Stock Futures Point To Mixed Open, Citigroup (NYSE: C) Eyed

US stock-index futures pointed to a mixed open on Wednesday as investors turned cautious amid speculation that the European and Chinese central banks are weighing rate increases.

At 8:31 am ET, the S&P 500 futures rose 0.20 points to 1,352.30. The Dow Jones Industrial average futures increased 1 point to 12,750. The Nasdaq Composite futures slipped 3.25 points to 2,386.50.

ADP survey on Wednesday reported that a total of 179,000 private-sector jobs were added in April. Economists had projected a rise of 200,000 private sector jobs.

UBS on Wednesday intiated rating on Citigroup (NYSE: C) with a Buy rating and a price target of $5.60. Citigroup shares rose nearly 0.55% in pre-market trading.

Kellogg Co. (NYSE: K) reported that its first quarter profit slipped to $366 million, or $1 per share, from $418 million, or $1.09 per share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue grew to $3.5 billion from $3.3 billion in the previous year period. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of $1.03 per share on revenue of $3.40 billion. Looking ahead, the company said that it continues to expect earnings per share in the range of $3.33 to $3.40. Using forward rates as of April 29, 2011, the company estimates a $0.09 foreign exchange benefit, which would result in reported 2011 earnings per share guidance in the range of $3.42 to $3.49.

Agrium, Inc. (NYSE: AGU) reported Wednesday that it swung to a first quarter profit of $171 million or $1.09 per share, compared to a net loss of $1 million or 1 cent per share in the prior-year quarter. On an adjusted basis, the company reported earnings of $1.03 per share in the latest quarter. Revenue jumped 60 percent to $2.95 billion from $1.85 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of 91 cents per share on revenue of $2.33 billion. 

Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG) said Wednesday that its sales rose 5.5% to $5.99 billion in April  from $5.68 billion for the same month in 2010. Duane Reade stores, acquired in April 2010, contributed 0.7 percentage point to the total sales increase for the month.

European stocks retreated in afternoon trade. At 13:02 pm London Time, the UK FTSE fell 59.83 points, or 0.98%, to 6,023.05. The German DAX and French CAC decreased 0.35% and 0.26% respectively.

Asian stocks finished lower. The Hang Seng index of Hong Kong declined 318.01 points, or 1.35%, to 23,315.24.

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