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Before The Bell: Retailers Flat; GE Disappoints


GE's losses were primarily due to shortfalls in its financial services.

Morning Perspective: Retail Roundup

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, U.S. chain store sales were down 0.5% for the month of March. Weakness was due in part to an early Easter holiday falling in March rather than April creating one less shopping day for the month. That, combined with the weakened economy and high fuel prices in recent months, posed a difficult period for retailers. Yet there were a few bright spots. ICSC's Chief economist Michael Niemira said "Weakness was evident in the apparel, department store and luxury sectors – but on a positive note we did see some strength in the grocery store, drug store, and wholesale club sectors." For more, read Professor Jeff Macke's Retail Roundup: Masters of Their Domain?

From the Bull Pen: Retail bulls can look to Wal-Mart (WMT); near-term sell-stops can be set below $54.

From the Bear Cave: Bears can attempt the downside in high-end retail like Polo Ralph Lauren (RL); buy-stops can be set above $62.

GE Disappoints

Stock futures are taking a hit this morning on General Electric's (GE) earnings. The manufacturing conglomerate reported 1Q profits of $0.44 per share, $0.07 worse than consensus estimates of $0.51. Revenues rose 7.8% on a year-over-year basis to $42.24 bln vs. $43.68 bln consensus. The company also issued downside guidance for 2Q with EPS in the range of $0.53-0.55 per share vs. estimates of $0.58. While demand for the global infrastructure business was strong, the primary shortfall was due to a decline in financial services earnings. Further extraordinary disruptions in the capital markets in March affected the company's ability to sell assets and resulted in higher mark-to-market losses and impairment. For more read Minyanville Editor Andrew Jeffery's column Financial Services Drag Down GE.

From the Bull Pen: Bulls can look to another old blue bellwether IBM (IBM); sell-stops can be set below $112.

From the Bear Cave: Bears can press the downside in GE; buy-stops above yesterday's close ($36.75).

For more ideas, see Minyanville's Spotlight Stocks.

Quick Check Around the World

Asian trading closed in the green with the Hang Seng +1.99%, Nikkei +2.92%, Sensex +0.72%, Taiwan +0.91% and Shanghai +0.61%.

European bourses are leaning red with the CAC -1.08%, DAX -1.47%, FTSE -1.11%

As of 8:30 AM EST, S&P futures are lower -16 points to 1346, and Nasdaq futures are down -15 points to 1843.

A Look At Commodities

Commodities are mixed. Crude oil is up +0.15 to 110.25. Gold is lower -3.0 to 927.00. Silver is down -0.023 to 18.030, and copper is up +3.60 to 399.00.

The dollar index is lower -0.337 to 71.770.

On the Radar


Import Price Index (m/m): 2.8% vs. 2.0% cons.
Import Price Index (y/y): 14.8% vs. 13.6% prior.

10:00 U. of Michigan Confidence: 69.0 cons.

TGI Friday! Have a great day!
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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