Morning News: J.C. Penney, Guess, Verizon, Campbell, Fresh Market

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Morning Market Update

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Stocks that are expected to trade actively in U.S. markets on Thursday include: J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD), Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), The Fresh Market Inc (NASDAQ:TFM), E TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC), Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE:WSM), The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX), Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR), Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN), Casella Waste Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CWST).

Market Levels:

US: Dow Futures: 14852.00 (0.31%), S&P 500 Futures: 1637.00 (0.29%), NASDAQ Futures: 3081.75 (0.44%)
Europe: CAC: 3974.56 (0.36%), DAX: 8173.28 (0.19%), FTSE: 6475.00 (0.70%)
Asia-Pacific: Australia: 5092.40 (0.10%), China: 2097.23 (-0.19%), Hong Kong: 21704.78 (0.83%), Japan: 13459.71 (0.90%).
Metals: Gold: 1412.80 (-0.42%), Silver: 24.29 (-0.41%), Copper: 3.30 (-0.18%)
Energy: Crude Oil: 109.28 (-0.74%), Natural Gas: 3.61 (0.89%)
Commodities: Corn: 4.79 (-0.21%), Soya Bean: 13.67 (-0.36%), Wheat: 6.56 (-0.42%)
Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3244 (-0.72%), GBP/USD: 1.5489 (-0.24%), USD/JPY: 98.4700 (0.85%)
10-year US Treasury: 2.822% (0.057)

Market and Economic News Update:

U.S. stock-index futures hold gains: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a higher open on Thursday after data showed the U.S. economy expanded at a faster pace in the second quarter. Gross domestic product rose at a 2.5 percent annualized rate, up from the initially estimated 1.7 percent, the Commerce Department said today. Economists had projected a 2.2 percent gain. In other economic news, jobless claims in the week ended August 24 fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 331,000, according to the Labor Department. Economists were expecting first-time applications to decline to 332,000 last week.

European markets rise: European markets are up in trade, mirroring gains in Asia, as investors sentiment improved on the back of some strong corporate earnings results. On the economic front, German joblessness increased by 7,000 in August, while the jobless rate stayed flat at 6.8 percent. The FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) edged 0.7 percent higher to 6475.00 points. The CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) added 0.4 percent to 3974.56 points, while the DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) gained 0.2 percent to 8173.28. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was up 0.2 percent in recent trading.

Asian stocks end mostly higher; Nikkei up 1%: Asian markets gained in trade following an overnight rebound on the Wall Street. But growing fears of a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria capped gains. The NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) crossed the 13,400 mark as the yen rose above the 97 handle against the dollar. The SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) bucked the trend to end 0.2 percent lower. The resource-heavy S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index reversed early morning losses to end flat in trade.

Stocks in News:

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP)

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP sold its J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) shares to Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) for $12.60 a share, according to a regulatory filing. Ackman’s fund had paid an average of $25 a share to acquire the shares. The decision by Ackman to dump his stake ends his campaign to overhaul the retailer, and pushed Penney’s shares down 2 percent in pre-market trading.

Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES)

Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES) shares soared in recent trading after the clothing retailer posted adjusted second-quarter earnings of 52 cents per share on revenue of $639 million, easily topping the average analysts’ estimate of earnings of 36 cents per share on sales of $622.9 million. Comparable sales fell 2 percent during the period, compared to a 10 percent decline in the first quarter. For the fiscal year, Guess expects adjusted earnings of $1.78 to $1.92 a share on revenue of $2.56 billion to $2.59 billion.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD)

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is in advanced talks to buy-out Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD)’s 45 percent stake in their U.S. joint venture, Verizon Wireless, for about $130 billion, Bloomberg reported late Wednesday. An announcement could come as early as September 2, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Shares of Verizon Communications spiked in early-hours trading following the report.

Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB)

Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $158 million, or 50 cents a share, from a profit of $127 million, or 40 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings rose to 45 cents a share, from 41 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales came in at $1.72 billion, compared to $1.52 billion, in the same period last year. Analysts were expecting earnings of 42 cents a share on revenue of $1.84 billion. For fiscal year 2014, the company expects sales from continuing operations to grow by 5 to 6 percent

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has announced a tie-up with the University of Leuven to develop drugs to treat dengue fever, the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine available for the mosquito-borne viral disease. Johnson & Johnson shares closed Wednesday at $86.53, and were up in recent trading.

The Fresh Market Inc (NASDAQ:TFM)

The specialty grocery store operator reported second-quarter earnings of 32 cents per share, in line with analysts’ projections. Revenue increased 13.3 percent to $354.8 million during the period, while same-store sales rose 3.4 percent. The company expects full-year earnings of between $1.50 and $1.55 per share, below current Wall Street estimates of $1.59 per share. Shares fell in pre-open trading.

E TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC)

Hedge fund Citadel LLC has emerged as the frontrunner to acquire E TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC)’s market-making unit, in a deal expected to be worth up to $200 million, according to a Reuters report. Virtu Financial, Two Sigma and RGM Advisors are also among companies bidding for Chicago-based G1 Execution Services, the report said, citing people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE:WSM)

The home-furnishings retailer’s fiscal second-quarter profit increased 13 percent to $48.9 million, or 49 cents a share, while sales rose 12 percent to $982.2 million. The company also raised its full-year earnings outlook to between $2.69 and $2.79 a share, versus $2.67 to $2.77 a share projected in May. Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE:WSM) was expected to release quarterly results after the market closed on Wednesday. But financial details were released erroneously during regular trading session, following which, shares were halted briefly.

The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX)

The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) has settled an investor class action suit over its 2007 initial public offering for $85 million. The private equity giant had been accused of inadequate disclosures ahead of the $4.7 billion IPO. Blackstone continues to deny wrongdoing as part of the settlement, court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan state.

Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR), Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN)

Shares of Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR) rose in early-hours trading after the semiconductor company’s board increased its share-repurchase authorization to 13 percent of total shares outstanding. Separately, Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN) announced that its board has authorized the repurchase of 10 million common shares, sending shares higher in recent trading.

Casella Waste Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CWST)

The waste-management company broke even on a per-share basis in its fiscal first quarter, on revenue of $128.6 million. Analysts were expecting a loss of 7 cents per share on sales of $121.7 million. In addition, Casella Waste Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CWST) raised its fiscal-year revenue guidance by $5 million, sending shares higher in pre-market trading.

Economic Calendar for Thursday, August 29, 2013:

08:30 A.M. ET: Gross Domestic Product Annualized (Q2)
08:30 A.M. ET: Initial Jobless Claims
08:30 A.M. ET: Continuing Jobless Claims
08:30 A.M. ET: Personal Consumption Expenditures Prices (QoQ) (Q2)
08:30 A.M. ET: Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (QoQ) (Q2)
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Natural Gas Storage change (August 23)
01:00 P.M. ET: 7-Year Note Auction
04:30 P.M. ET: Fed Balance Sheet
04:30 P.M. ET: Money Supply
07:45 P.M. ET: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks.

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