Checking in on currencies and commodities, the U.S. Dollar Index is up 0.26% in pre-market trading as investors respond to the latest retail sales data. The rise in the dollar is having little effect on gold this morning, however, as the August futures contract is up $2.20 at $930.90 an ounce in London trading. Finally, crude oil is on the rise again, with the August contract up 62 cents at $136.65 per barrel.
Turning to the retail sector, Costco Wholesale (COST: sentiment, chart, options) reported that same-store sales for June rose 9%, versus analysts' expectations for a rise of 8.2%. The company also reported that total sales for the month rose 12%. Elsewhere, Limited Brands ( LTD: sentiment, chart, options) reported that June's same-store sales fell 9% from the year earlier, versus the consensus estimate for a drop of 7.4%.
The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT: sentiment, chart, options), also released its June sales figures. For the month, WMT said that sales at stores open at least 1 year rose 5.8%, excluding fuel. Analysts were expecting same-store sales to rise 3.8%. Including fuel, same-store sales rose 6.4%. Total company sales for the month rose 11.5% to $39.94 billion. On the heels of these stronger-than-expected figures, Wal-Mart lifted its second-quarter profit target to a range of 82 cents to 84 cents per share.
In other blue-chip news, Boeing (BA: sentiment, chart, options) announced a $250-million charge before taxes, or 22 cents per share, for the second quarter. The company blamed the charge on previously announced delays of its airborne and early warning and control program. Boeing reiterated its 2008 earnings guidance of $5.70 to $5.85 per share. Next year's earnings are still expected to be $6.80 to $7 per share.
Finally, Research in Motion (RIMM: sentiment, chart, options) is apparently struggling with the touch-screen interface on its planned Blackberry Thunder, according to Nomura analyst Richard Windsor. You may remember that tech-blog website BoyGeniusReport.com reported similar news yesterday afternoon. According to Windsor, the implementation of touch on a BlackBerry is much further behind in the development cycle than Nokia's ( NOK: sentiment, chart, options) efforts. "Those who have handled prototypes complain of poor typing, unresponsive keys, bugs in the user interface caused by touch as well as accelerometer issues," Windsor reported. He said that although he is confident the issues will be worked out, the market is unlikely to see Thunder for some time.
Opening View: Wal-Mart Boosts Futures After June Same-Store Sales