Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
According to stock index futures as of 7:40 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) will stumble out of the gate this morning, falling 48 points at the opening bell. Lawmakers have yet to come to an agreement that would avert a shutdown of the federal government starting Tuesday. Economists estimate that, if it dragged into weeks, a shutdown could cut economic growth in half for the fourth quarter.
Investors will get the final reading on consumer confidence for the month at 10 a.m. EDT. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is expected to slip to 77 from August's 82 as mortgage-rate increases and slow job growth continue to take their toll on consumers.
With those broader trends in mind, here are a few individual stock stories to watch for in today's market.
Nike (NYSE: NKE ) looks set to sprint higher today after it kicked off the Dow earnings season with a solid beat. The newly minted Dow member booked a 37% boost in profit, lapping Wall Street expectations of 22%. Key to that outperformance was a surprise jump in gross margin, which grew 1.2 percentage points to 44.9% as raw material costs fell. Sales in China, however, dipped by 3%. Nike shares are up 7% in premarket trading.
The J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP ) rollercoaster ride continues. After recently suggesting that it wouldn't need to raise cash this year, the retailer announced a new stock offering last night worth nearly $1 billion. That issue will boost its share base by a whopping 44%, but it should give Penney room to navigate through even a tough holiday season. Shares are down 8% in premarket trading after swinging by 18% yesterday on huge trading volumes.
Finally, BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY ) could see active trading today after it reported an adjusted loss of $0.47 per share and a 49% drop in revenue. BlackBerry warned last week that this quarter's results would be bad, and today it officially delivered on that promise. The company took a $934 million inventory writedown, as it only managed to book revenue on 3.7 million smartphones in the quarter. The good news is that BlackBerry has $2.6 billion in cash and no debt on its books, giving it some space to work on its transition away from the cutthroat hardware business. Shares are up 1% in premarket trading.