Stock futures point higher after spike in building permits

The housing figure jumps in July though starts weaken. The Chinese Premier says there's more room for easing in China. Weekly initial jobless claims rise. The four-week moving average falls. Cisco's results help offset Walmart's disappointing sales.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 16, 2012 9:17AM
Updated at 9:17 a.m. ET

By Andrea Tse

U.S. stock futures were rising, pointing to a higher Wall Street open Thursday, after a reported jump in building permits for July, more hints of stimulus from China and solid quarterly results from Cisco.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) were up by 25 points at 13,160. S&P 500 ($INX) futures were up by 3.1 points at 1,407. Futures for the Nasdaq ($COMPX) 100 were rising by 7.5 points to 2,746.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during an inspection tour of the eastern province of Zhejiang that there's still more room for monetary easing in China thanks to the cooling inflation in the country, according to state media, during an inspection tour of the eastern province of Zhejiang.

"We have the conditions and capabilities, and will be sure to fulfill this year's economic and social development targets," said Wen.

The Commerce Department said housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000, which was 1.1% below the June estimate of 754,000. Building permits last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 812,000, which was 6.8% above the June rate of 760,000.

Economists on average had predicted that housing starts came in at an annual rate of 757,000 and that building permits came in at a 770,000 annual rate.

Simultaneously, the Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 11 increased by 2,000 to 366,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 364,000. The four-week moving average was 363,750, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week's average of 369,250.

Continuing claims for the week ended Aug. 4 fell 31,000 to 3.305 million.

Economist surveyed by Reuters on average were expecting initial jobless claims of 365,000 and continuing claims of 3.3 million.

The release of the general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook Survey at 10 a.m. is expected to show an improvement to minus 5 in August from minus 12.9.

The major U.S. equity averages finished mixed in moribund trading Wednesday with volume once again running extremely light.

September crude oil futures were dipping by 9 cents at $94.24 a barrel and December gold futures were down 60 cents at $1,606 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was flat, with the yield at 1.82%. The greenback was up 0.16%, according to the dollar index.

The FTSE in London was sliding 0.2% and the DAX in Germany was flat.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng index finished down 0.45% and the Nikkei in Japan closed ahead by 1.88%.

On the corporate front, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT)  reported net income of $4.02 billion, or $1.19 a share for the quarter ended Jul. 31 versus $3.80 billion, or $1.09 a share, the prior year. Revenue excluding membership fees at Sam's Club increased 4.5% to $113.53 billion. Analysts, on average, had predicted earnings of $1.17 a share on revenue of $114.63 billion.

Sears Holdings (SHLD) reported that its loss narrowed in the second quarter thanks to cost cuts and leaner inventory levels.

Cisco (CSCO) is already giving the Dow a headstart on a positive session. The stock was jumping more than 4% in late trades Wednesday after the networker reported strong quarterly results and announced plans to boost its quarterly cash dividend by 75% to 14 cents a share from 8 cents.

NetApp (NTAP) was also a standout gainer after the bell, rising more than 5% after the storage and data management technology company beat Wall Street's expectations for its fiscal first quarter and gave a solid outlook.


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Aug 16, 2012 11:09AM
Sorry Brutus, but the private sector is doing fine......
Aug 16, 2012 12:48PM
The labor participation rate continues to drop, and it probably will for the foreseeable future as more and more boomers retire.  We have huge numbers of people getting food stamps and other welfare benefits.  We have record claims for disability benefits.  There's a big shift happening, and everyday there's more "takers" and less "givers".  The "givers" are going to have their hands full for awhile, and the mounting debt is just adding to this burden.  Maybe this is why some of the "givers" are leaving the country - they are tired of giving and not seeing any results.  Hell, they don't even get a thank-you note - just another bill every quarter.
Aug 16, 2012 11:02AM
LOM - 92% are still working?  92% of what?  I know, I know, you got that figure because the UE rate is about 8%.

Now, just for $hits and giggles, look at the numbers a different way.  We have a population of about 314 million legal citizens.  Our workforce is at 142.6 million, or about 45.4%.  So less than half of our population is available to work.  Now factor in the 12.7 million that are officially unemployed, and you're down to about 130 million people working in the country, which is about 41.4% of our population.  Now take it a step further: of those 130 million working, 4.4 million are employed by the federal gov and another 15.2 million are employed by state and local governments, for a total of 19.6 million government employees.  So we have approximately 110 million people working in the private sector, or about 35% of our total population.  You can take it even further and consider that about 10 million are only working part-time jobs because that's the only work they can find.

How long can we sustain ourselves and grow if only 1/3 of our citizens are actually producing something in the private sector?

Aug 16, 2012 4:40PM
Congrats on your analysis Brutus, and you are approximately correct. Boomers will add about another 20 million to the non-participation equation.

However, communism works with essentially 100% government workers (and some black market enterprises) and yet they survive without problem if they aren't too gregarious with their war machine spending.

Capitalistic systems can work with less participation from the labor force because of technologic efficiencies allowing higher output per capita. More efficiencies mean fewer workers are needed to generate a higher output of goods and services (requires an educated workforce). A better society can be built and workers can either be utilized in other endeavors or allowed to go to pasture. Are we at that point where very few workers can generate enough for all the population? I don't believe we are, but I do know that when the output starts to decline and the workforce is idle, that is a recipe for disaster.

We either must:

1. Do nothing and hope there is no uprising (see Arab Spring).

2. Support the unemployed until they can be employed again (direct aid).

3. Create government jobs or provide jobs until they can be used in the private sector again (direct aid).

4. Support the private sector in the hopes that they will create jobs (indirect aid).

Since the private sector is already sitting on hoards of cash, #4 would only marginally work.
Aug 16, 2012 11:49AM
243M non institutionalized population, 142M employed, 58.2% of the population working.  86M not in the workforce.. and 6.8M of them claim to want a job.

So unless you want to start saying that retirees, housewives(or husbands), or the disabled in should pick up jobs or be deemed unemployed it looks like your numbers need some work.

Aug 16, 2012 10:59AM

DO you consider Romney / Ryan "hard-hearted right wingers?"

Knowing your context would help me understand you better.

Aug 16, 2012 2:26PM
You got that right, Jar and VF...Like I said the other day.

doda; Fact 1
(any right winger, pick one)...NO!
doda; Fact 2
RW :  Hell No!
doda; Fact 3 and some figures.
RW :  You Suck!
doda; Well, what have you got to refute that?
RW:  Im warning ya! I got guns...Lots and lots of guns, Libtard!

Doda;  Okay, you win.

While this does not resemble the traditional conventions of debate,
it is what occurs here (and other venues) daily, ad nauseum.

For those who present facts, links,supporting data, etc...Thanks!
For those who substitute nothing but derision, ploys, politics and combative non-negotiable stances to solutions...I also offer "thanks" ...for ...
showing the rest of us exactly what you use to think with and how badly articulated the message can be. 

Now, I turn the floor over to Hi_comrads.  What else ya got?

Aug 16, 2012 4:24PM

Bought at about 4 cents below the close...Funny how I can get excited about pennies, when it may come to a $10-15,000 deal.....


It's really JUST all about the game......

And Eldorado was up 4.6%.....yahoooooooooo!

Aug 16, 2012 4:21PM

Ex div time a few weeks off...I was prepared to pay a certain price and went ahead with my conviction..


If it drops more tomorrow, i'll probably look at it; Swear a little bit and move on with my life...


I seldom look back at what could have been; I am already cynical enough...

I've made moves that were very good....And have made some that were not very great...

All you have to do in life is try to put yourself in the higher percentile of what is good..

By weighing the difference of good or bad; And being on the right side of fence;

Can easily determine whether you have a restful sleep or the alternative...?

I normally sleep pretty well, and sometimes better with about 3 whiskeys...

Aug 16, 2012 1:19PM

I do realize..That our children,grandchildren are putting off having their own kids to a later date in life.



Not really sure how that is going to work out, plus I'm pretty sure we are under ZPG, except for families that have very poor work records....Welfare families.


I sometimes wonder if we won't have a generation of NO workers available...?

Will that have a great effect on Immigration ??

And then will it come back and bite us on the azz 20 years later...??


Aug 16, 2012 3:22PM

LOM.....Finally picked up that Annaly(NLY) a few minutes ago....Might have got it at the low of the day..??

Got it a nickel lower then my offer a couple days back..

This may be my last accumulation effort....Got about all I need...And this was in a taxable acct.


Aug 16, 2012 1:08PM

If we were to settle on a figure of about 150 million people should or could be working....We are not going to see that figure fluctuate a large amount....Say 20-30%....I hope not, because that would spell D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N.....

Yes, let's go with about 8% U/E...12-15 million

Military about 2-3 million..?

Illegal Immigs...2 million?

Part-time people(that shouldn't be working)...2 million ?

People working under the table/ off the radar.....this is where it all goes South/North or whatever...??

I know of roughly 10% doing that around here alone...And that is where much of the problem lys.

Like I say it is fairly easy to throw out figures, And I think the Government just gives it's best shot.

Aug 16, 2012 6:04PM

LOM......Yeah I've been reading about millionaires and/or the wealthy are slowly coming back into equities....They are doing it in a sneaky, very sneaky manner...

I personally am only cruising re-investing divs and selling high-flyers to reinvest in a dollar cost averaging manner or into something new with maybe better dividends.

I been trying out some old Buffet strategy the last year or two...I believe it is having some fruitation..?

The Rich are secretive about their investments,except with each other...They do live different.


There's a good chance you might pick up NLY or others on what I think might be a dip coming??

But I also don't believe all Companies will drop with it....Then we might be off to the races....IMO.

I've been holding some cash, but it burns a hole in my screen, so I usually put it to work.

Aug 16, 2012 4:35PM
Whew! What a day! I liked the numbers about 3:00 PM or so, but this will do.
My dear old dad used to say, those pennies do add up, eventually.
Good job, Tog.

Think I will wait on NLY.  The 10 yr note keeps dribbing down, with the inverse
interest rates doing their thing.  I dont worry about that too much, since reading
that piece about how NLY will likely weather the interest rate changes overall,
BUT I just want to see some other folks squeezed out so I can get in at more like
16 1/2, thereabouts.

BUT yeah I will take today....oh, almost forgot...Down with Obama!  Ha ha....
those nincompoops just slay me!

Aug 16, 2012 1:51PM
Bye comrads...we are trying to have a real discussion here.
Please post your nonsensical, but gleeful diatribes over
on Top Stocks with the rest of the villagers, okay?
Thank you.

Aug 16, 2012 12:51PM

I always got a kick out of my friends a few years ago would send the "official" figures of people working in the US.....


When it got down to the last couple lines, it would all figure out to just "two" people still left...working

Then my "friends" would make the audacious statement of, "they were tired of carrying me,"

and that I had better "get my azz busy."

Aug 16, 2012 12:15PM
Brutus and Gooch, sad as it may seem, there is the "new Normal".  As long as capital stays cooped up at the top, or rather, in offshore accounts to avoid taxation,  we may never reach 4-5 percent employment again. Instead your idea seems to lead to allowing the flotsam jettisoned from the lifeboats to just sink beneath the waves of indifference.  There are ramifications from heartless policies, no matter how well you can show they create gains for the rest of us. 

Without the temporary fix of progressive taxation to remedy this imbalance, we need the new "bubble" of which I spoke last week.  Right now, with DC in a stall, we need to fix DC or let Central banks dictate money policy sufficient to maintain the "flat", let alone prevent deflation.
Which do you prefer,  our elected reps or Central Bankers?  Yeah, me lets fix it politically first, and lets then set the tax rates straight enough to force money to circulate again.

Only then, can we make the new Normal the old Normal. 

Aug 16, 2012 12:11PM

Brutus: Your arithmetic is mechanically sound but your hypothesis is somewhat skewed

 and antithetical..Using your own figures, you're concluding that only 1/3 of the TOTAL population is producing whereas the 110 million working people would actually constitute about 80% of the available workforce.

Aug 16, 2012 3:16PM
Gooch and Brutus, check this out:

NEW YORK (AP) - Twenty-six big U.S. companies paid their CEOs more last year than they paid the federal government in tax, according to a study released Thursday by a liberal-leaning think tank.
The study, by the Institute for Policy Studies, said the companies, including AT&T, Boeing and Citigroup, paid their CEOs an average of $20.4 million last year while paying little or no federal tax on ample profits, according to regulatory filings.

Inverse relationships, guys-   Whats good for the corporates may not be good for the general economy.  Do you agree with type of corporate welfare by our do-nothing TP/GOP in CONgress,
Yes or no?

Whatever the case, this proves that the private sector is ‘doing fine’, eh?
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