Global financial markets are treading water on Thursday as signs emerged China will act to boost its economic growth. Yesterday, Brazil announced a US$60 billion stimulus package to prop up its flagging economy. Closer to home, Statistics Canada will report on international securities transactions in June, as economists expect to see a net gain of C$10 billion. On the U.S. economic data calendar, investors will watch for the release of U.S. initial jobless claims and housing starts.
Here are the stocks we're watching today:
*Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted a higher quarterly profit than was expected this morning. Sales at the discount retailer's U.S. stores that have been open for at least one year, or same-store sales, rose by 2.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2012. That makes four consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. Wal-Mart earned US$1.18 per share, up from $1.09 per share one year ago.
*Facebook's lock-up period will expire Thursday, which could lead to some 270 million shares flooding the market. Facebook's stock has dropped more than 33 per cent since it's debut on the Nasdaq on May 18. More than 1.8 billion share will be eligible for trade over the next nine months and if their first earnings report was any indication, shareholders may be looking to offload their piece of the tech giant sooner rather than later.
*Sears Holding Corp., the former U.S. parent of department store chain Sears Canada, says its second quarter loss narrowed but sales keep falling at Sears and Kmart stores. The company slashed expenses and reduced inventory to achieve a loss of $132 million, or $1.25 per share, in the second quarter. Revenue dropped by 7 per cent to $9.47 billion, below Wall Street's estimate of $9.68 billion.
*Gap Inc., will report its second quarter earnings after the markets close on Thursday. Expectations are that the San Francisco-based clothing and accessories operator of The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta chains has been fighting to reclaim its status at the top of the fashion food chain. The Gap is the U.S.'s largest mall-based clothing chain and its results will give investors a view into consumers' willingness to spend. Analysts expect to see earnings of 46 cents per share on revenue of $3.57 billion. Last year, the company posted earnings of 35 cents per share on revenue of $3.38 billion.
*Dollar Tree Inc., is among a handful of discount store chains that have kept their profits fat and sales sizzling by focusing on consumers' penny-pinching ways and offering deals on name-brand goods. Dollar Tree is scheduled to report its second quarter earnings on Thursday. Hopes are the discount chain will show a rise in earnings but the company's profitability could come under pressure, as lower margin consumables have reportedly become an increasing part of its overall merchandise mix.
*Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd., one of the world's largest gold mining companies with operations located primarily on the Witwatersand Basin in South Africa, will report its second quarter earnings on Thursday. The company's stock was recently upgraded from "hold" to "buy" by TheStreet Ratings due to its robust revenue growth and a solid financial position with reasonable debt levels. Since the second quarter of 2011, Harmony's revenues rose by 19.9 per cent and there's the possibility the company could acquire embattled precious metals miner Great Basin Gold Ltd.