Investors can expect a much higher start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.50%) has gained 168 points, or 1.04%, in pre-market trading. Easing tensions in Ukraine helped world markets recover from yesterday's sell-off, and Europe's stock index rose by 2% overnight. If Wall Street follows that lead the S&P 500 could easily reach a fresh record high today, while the Dow would need a 2.5% rally to do the same.
There isn't much on today's economic calendar, but investors will get a new reading on unemployment tomorrow when the Automatic Data Processing jobs report is released at 8:15 a.m. EST. That report is expected to show a gain of 150,000 private-sector jobs in February, below January's 175,000 figure.
Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on several stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including RadioShack (RSHCQ), AutoZone (AZO 2.34%), and E.W. Scripps (SSP -2.27%).
RadioShack this morning announced results for a brutal holiday quarter that saw comparable-store sales plummet by 19%. Revenue came in at $935 million -- 20% lower than last year and significantly below the $1.1 billion that Wall Street expected. The retailer also booked a surprise loss of $1.90 a share. While it was stung by the same promotional selling environment that affected most consumer electronics retailers, RadioShack was particularly hard-hit: It now plans to close up to 1,100 stores and take on $800 million in new debt as part of a stepped-up turnaround strategy. The stock is down 24% in pre-market trading.
AutoZone today booked surprisingly strong results for its fiscal second quarter. Sales rose by 7.3% to reach $2 billion, ahead of Wall Street's $1.97 billion target. Profit grew even faster as the auto parts supplier logged its 13th straight quarter of double-digit earnings growth: EPS improved by 18% to $5.63, while analysts had forecast $5.55. AutoZone is doing just about everything right these days, with comparable-store sales growing at a healthy 4.3% while profitability ticks higher at the same time. That suggests the stock can continue to climb despite the almost 300% rally its seen over the last five years. Shares are up 1.8% in pre-market trading.
Finally, E.W. Scripps reported slightly better than expected fourth-quarter results this morning. The media company's advertising revenue fell relative to last year's results, which were lifted by record spending on political ads. Nevertheless, Scripps managed gains in local advertising and in retransmission fees, which helped it meet expectations with a $0.14 a share profit in the quarter. The stock is unchanged in pre-market trading.