Morning Market Update

Morning Market

Stocks that are expected to trade actively in U.S. markets on Wednesday include:
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD), AFLAC Incorporated (NYSE:AFL), Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN), Humana Inc (NYSE:HUM), Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC), Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:CBST), Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPTR), Trius Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSRX), CBOE Holdings, Inc (NASDAQ:CBOE), Energizer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ENR).

Market Levels:

US: Dow Futures: 15475.00 (-0.05%), S&P 500 Futures: 1683.40 (-0.08%), NASDAQ Futures: 3085.50 (0.00%)
Europe: CAC: 3984.07 (-0.06%), DAX: 8246.98 (-0.29%), FTSE: 6620.69 (0.75%)
Asia-Pacific: Australia: 5052.00 (0.10%), China: 1993.80 (0.19%), Hong Kong: 21883.66 (-0.32%), Japan: 13668.32 (-1.47%).
Metals: Gold: 1323.00 (-0.08%), Silver: 19.76 (0.38%), Copper: 3.07 (0.85%)
Energy: Crude Oil: 103.52 (0.43%), Natural Gas: 3.45 (0.58%)
Commodities: Corn: 4.74 (-0.63%), Soya Bean: 12.05 (0.17%), Wheat: 6.55 (0.04%)
Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3229 (-0.26%), GBP/USD: 1.5146 (-0.60%), USD/JPY: 98.2700 (0.24%)
10-year US Treasury: 2.669% (0.061)

Market and Economic News Update:

U.S. stock-index futures largely unchanged: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a flat open on Wednesday despite better than expected GDP and private sector employment reports. The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter, more than economists’ projections of 1.0 percent. Separately, payroll processor Automatic Data Processing said the U.S. private sector added 200,000 jobs in July, compared to expectations of a gain of 180,000 jobs. Later in the day, investors will focus on the Federal Reserve’s policy statement for clues as to when the central bank will start tapering the pace of bond purchases.

European markets mostly lower: European markets fell in trade amid investor caution ahead of the latest policy decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve. On the economic front, German retail sales unexpectedly dropped 1.5 percent in June, the sharpest monthly drop since December 2012. In other news, European Union unemployment rate fell for the first time in over two years in June. The CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) lost 0.1 percent to 3984.07, while the DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) shed 0.3 percent to 8246.98. The FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) edged 0.8 percent higher to 6620.69 points. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was trading close to the flat-line.

Asian stocks mixed; Nikkei down 1.5%: Asian markets struggled for direction on Wednesday as investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy statement. The NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) tumbled 1.5 percent amid a strengthened yen and a batch of downbeat corporate results. The SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) failed to close above the key psychological level of 2000, ending 0.2 percent higher. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index gave up gains made earlier in the session to close flat in trade.

Stocks in News:

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)

Shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) crossed the $38 initial public offering price in pre-market trading on Wednesday, more than a year after its controversial debut. The stock has rallied more than 43 percent since reporting better-than-expected second quarter results last week. Earlier in the week, Facebook also announced plans to unveil a mobile game publishing service.

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) reported better than expected quarterly results, helped by higher cable prices and growth at its NBCUniversal unit. For the second quarter, the company recorded profit of 65 cents per share, two cents above the average analysts’ estimate, with revenue also beating consensus. Shares closed Tuesday at $42.71, and soared in pre-open trading.

Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN)

The biopharmaceutical company posted second quarter earnings of $1.89 a share on sales of $4.68 billion, beating forecasts for $1.74 a share on revenue of $4.49 billion. For the full-year, Amgen expects revenue at the upper end of its $17.8 billion to $18.2 billion range. Shares gained in pre-market trading.

Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD)

Shares of Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) surged in early trade after Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management disclosed a 9.8 percent stake in the industrial gas company. The stake, valued at about $2.2 billion, makes Pershing Square the biggest shareholder in the company. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ackman is unlikely to press for a break-up of Air Products, and will instead push for operational improvements.

AFLAC Incorporated (NYSE:AFL)

The insurance company posted second quarter adjusted earnings of $1.62 a share, on revenue of $6.04 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations for $1.51 a share on sales of $5.83 billion. Aflac, which counts on Japan for almost 80 percent of its business, said premium income increased 9 percent in yen terms but dropped 12 percent in dollar terms. However, the company provided current-quarter guidance that was slightly below forecasts. Shares were flat in recent trading.

Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN)

The management consulting firm is in talks to acquire rival Booz & Co, the Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report said that Accenture is looking at Booz and Co to boost its strategy and operations consulting services. Representatives at Accenture and Booz & Co declined to comment.

Humana Inc (NYSE:HUM)

The insurer posted second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates, and raised its guidance for the year, sending shares higher in pre-market trading. Per-share profit was $2.63 a share, up from $2.16 a year in the year-ago period. Revenue came in at $9.7 billion, below expectations for $10.3 billion. Humana raised its full-year earnings guidance to a range of $8.65 to $8.75 per share from its earlier view of $8.40 to $8.60 a share.

Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC)

The computer security software company reported first quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 44 cents a share, on sales of $1.71 billion, edging past expectations for 36 cents a share on sales of $1.64 billion. For the current quarter, Symantec expects profit to be 42 cents to 44 cents a share, on revenue of $1.65 billion to $1.69 billion. The average analysts’ projection is for earnings of 45 cents a share on $1.71 billion in sales.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:CBST), Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPTR), Trius Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSRX)

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:CBST) has agreed to buy Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPTR) and Trius Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSRX) for up to $1.62 billion to expand its portfolio of antibiotics. Cubist said it would pay a total of $15.75 per share in cash for Optimer, and would buy all outstanding shares of Trius for a total of $15.50 per share in cash, including contingency payments.

CBOE Holdings, Inc (NASDAQ:CBOE), Energizer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ENR)

The options exchange raised its quarterly dividend by 20 percent from 15 cents a share to 18 cents a share. The dividend is payable September 20 to shareholders of record August 30. Shares of CBOE Holdings, Inc (NASDAQ:CBOE) were largely unchanged in early-hours trading. Separately, Energizer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ENR) increased its quarterly dividend by 25 percent to 50 cents a share from 40 cents a share.

Economic Calendar for Wednesday, July 31, 2013:

07:00 A.M. ET: MBA Mortgage Applications (July 26)
08:15 A.M. ET: ADP Employment Change (July)
08:30 A.M. ET: Gross Domestic Product Annualized (Q2)
09:45 A.M. ET: Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index (July)
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Crude Oil Stocks change (July 26)
02:00 P.M. ET: FOMC Meeting Announcement
03:00 P.M. ET: Farm Prices (July)