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Futures Lower as Oil Weighs on the Street's Mood

With the usual nonfarm payrolls report delayed until next
Friday, and a light load of earnings releases on the docket, U.S.
stock futures are trading modestly lower this morning, as traders
digest a week’s worth of

exciting market news

. Wall Street is maintaining its cautious stance toward crude, as

the front-month contract shot higher

after yesterday’s close on speculation that a key Saudi Arabian
pipeline had burst. The rumors have since been denied; however,
concern over the price of oil continues to keep investors on edge.
Against this timid backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
(DJIA) is down 33 points ahead of the bell, while the broader
SP 500 Index (SPX) is trading 4 points south of breakeven.

Dow, SP and Nasdaq futures

In equities news, San Francisco-based social media concern Yelp
Inc. (YELP – 15.00) priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $15
per share after Thursday’s close, above the previously forecast
$12-$14 range. With this current price, Yelp’s IPO is valued at
approximately $107 million, with a market capitalization of roughly
$899 million. Today’s stock offering is expected to be the last
Internet-related IPO until Facebook’s highly anticipated debut.

In earnings news, Big Lots (BIG – 44.49) banked a fourth-quarter
profit of $114.7 million, or $1.75 per share, up 4.2% from last
year’s earnings of $110.1 million, or $1.46 per share. Net sales
improved 9.9% to $1.67 billion. The results surpassed consensus
estimates, which called for a profit of $1.73 per share on $1.66
billion in revenue. For the current quarter, BIG expects to earn 75
cents to 81 cents per share from continuing operations, while
analysts are looking for a first-quarter profit of 81 cents per
share. BIG has edged up 0.3% ahead of the bell.

Elsewhere, Motricity, Inc. (MOTR – 1.32) swallowed a
fourth-quarter loss of $10.5 million, or 23 cents per share, versus
its year-ago profit of $2.9 million, or 6 cents per share. Revenue
was also on the decline, dropping 32% to $24.5 million from last
year’s sales of $36 million. Excluding items, the Internet issue’s
loss narrowed to 14 cents per share. The bottom-line results bested
analysts’ expectations for an adjusted per-share loss of 16 cents;
however, revenue fell short of the Street’s forecast for $30.1
million in sales. MOTR is set to drop more than 17% right out of
the gate.

Finally, PC Mall (MALL – 6.27) reported a fourth-quarter loss of
$393,000, or 3 cents per share, down from a profit of $3.9 million,
or 32 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings
from operations dropped by 42% to $4 million, while net sales fell
by 8.4% to $389.8 million. By contrast, Wall Street was looking for
a profit of 22 cents per share on $407 million in sales. MALL also
announced the appointment of Mark McGrath as President, who will
oversee the company’s day-to-day operations. MALL is down 7.6% in
pre-market trading.

Earnings Preview

Today’s earnings docket will also feature a report from Genesco
(
GCO

). Keep your browser at


SchaeffersResearch.com

for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

There are no major economic reports scheduled to be released
today.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (
CBOE

) saw 1,162,764 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to
756,421 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.65, while the 21-day moving average was 0.61.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Equities in Asia ended higher today, even as energy stocks shed
their early gains. Reports of a Saudi pipeline explosion had
propelled oil sharply higher on Thursday evening, but black gold
pulled back after a government official denied the story. Buyers
were encouraged by Thursday’s well-received U.S. jobs data, as well
as a ruling by the International Swaps Derivatives
Association (ISDA) that Greece’s selective default rating was not
sufficient to trigger credit default swaps. By the close, China’s
Shanghai Composite climbed 1.4%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced
0.8%, Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.7%, and South Korea’s Kospi added
0.2%.

On the other hand, the major European benchmarks are lower at
midday. Traders were unsettled by Spain’s upwardly revised deficit
target, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy raising his 2012 forecast
to 5.8% of gross domestic product (
GDP

), compared to the earlier view of a 4.4% shortfall. The news has
pushed Spanish bond yields higher, with investors now fleeing to
the relative safety of German bonds and the U.S. dollar. At last
look, the German DAX is down 0.4%, London’s FTSE 100 is off 0.3%,
and the French CAC 40 is 0.2% lower.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The U.S. dollar index is up in pre-market trading, with the
greenback last seen 0.6% higher at $79.29. Thanks to a
strengthening dollar, and the Saudi government’s denial of a
pipeline explosion, crude oil has retreated from

yesterday’s after-hours surge

, with the front-month contract down 0.8% at $107.98 per barrel.
Gold futures are headed south, as well, with the malleable metal
0.3% lower at $1,717.20 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

For an explanation of how to use this information, check out our
Education Center

topics on
Option Volume

and
Open Interest Configurations

.

Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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and the overnight markets, and monitors the morning wires to
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