MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Opening View: Futures Higher Ahead of Fed's Interest-Rate Decision

In merger-and-acquisition news, Pier 1 Imports (PIR: View sentiment for PIRsentiment, chart, options) abandoned its proposal for Cost Plus (CPWM: View sentiment for CPWMsentiment, chart, options) , implying the price tag may be a little steep. In a statement, Pier 1 said, "It is unlikely that we would be able to acquire a majority interest in Cost Plus at a price that would make sense for our shareholders." The deal – Pier 1 offered 0.6 share of PIR for each share of CPWM – was valued at around $88 million.

On the earnings front, Darden Restaurants (DRI: View sentiment for DRIsentiment, chart, options) reported a fourth-quarter profit of $102 million, or 71 cents per share, compared to a loss of $55.1 million, or 38 cents per share, a year prior. Excluding items, earnings docked at 78 cents per share; analysts, on average, had predicted earnings-per-share of 75 cents. Sales for the quarter grew 25% to $1.8 billion, compared to the Street's forecast for revenue of $1.82 billion. The company attributed most of its profit to growth at its Olive Garden restaurant. The restaurateur also forecast fiscal-2009 earnings-per-share to grow 15%, and increased its quarterly dividend to 20 cents per share from 18 cents.

In other earnings news, General Mills (GIS: View sentiment for GISsentiment, chart, options) is set to open moderately lower after the company reported a 17% decline in fourth-quarter net income. However, excluding items, the Cheerios maker earned 73 cents per share, matching analysts' expectations. Sales for the quarter jumped 13% higher to $3.47 billion, exceeding expectations for sales of $3.37 billion, helped in part by strong sales of its yogurt, cookie mixes, and cereal.

Economic Calendar

The economic calendar picks up the pace considerably today, with the release of May's durable orders and new home sales data, as well as the usual crude inventories report. Furthermore, the much-anticipated Federal Open Market Committee policy decision is slated for release at 2:15 p.m. EST. On Thursday, we'll see the latest initial jobless claims statistics, as well as May's existing home sales data. Finally, Friday brings us May's personal income and spending reports, as well as the PCE Core Inflation results.



Opening View: Futures Higher Ahead of Fed's Interest-Rate Decision



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