What to Watch in the Day Ahead - Thursday, Feb 4

Wed Feb 3, 2016 2:28pm EST
 
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(The Day Ahead is an email and PDF publication that includes the day's major stories and
events, analyses and other features. To receive The Day Ahead, Eikon users can register at
. Thomson One users can register at RT/DAY/US. All times in ET/GMT)

New U.S. applications for unemployment benefits likely drifted higher last week, but remained
below a level associated with sustained labor market strength. According to a Reuters survey,
first-time applications for state unemployment benefits probably inched up to 280,000 last week
from 278,000 the prior week. Claims have been volatile in recent weeks, making it harder to get
a clear picture of the labor market's health. (0830/1330) Data from the U.S. Labor Department is
expected to show that non-farm productivity dropped at a 1.8 percent annual pace in the fourth
quarter, compared with 2.2 percent growth in the prior quarter. (0830/1330) Later, data from the
Commerce Department is estimated to show a 2.8 percent drop in factory orders in December after
a 0.2 percent dip in November. (1000/1500)

Occidental Petroleum Corp is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss, compared with a year-ago
profit, hurt by plunging oil prices. Investors will focus on the fourth-largest U.S. oil
producer's 2016 capital spending plan and production. Occidental exited North Dakota's Bakken
shale field last year to focus on its core Texas shale fields.

Health insurer Cigna Corp is forecast to report a rise in fourth-quarter profit. The company,
which specializes in insurance at large employers, recently said new enrollments in its
'Medicare Advantage' program had been shut down by the government. Cigna is also under scrutiny
by antitrust regulators for its deal with Anthem Inc.

Boston Federal Reserve Bank is due to release the text of President Eric Rosengren's speech
delivered in Cape Town, South Africa. Rosengren, one of the central bank's most influential
regulators, will give his take on how close the country is to solving the "Too Big To Fail"
problem that helped spark the 2007-2009 global recession. (0215/0815) Separately, Cleveland Fed
President Loretta Mester speaks on the economic outlook and monetary policy before an event
sponsored by Market News International in New York. Mester, who has a vote on policy this year,
will need to decide whether her hawkish plans for rate hikes this year needs to be adjusted
after January's global market selloff. Worries over a global economic slowdown and plunging oil
prices could prompt her to back off from a forecast of at least four rate hikes in 2016.
(1700/2200) Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan discusses global economic conditions in Dallas.
Global economy is a critical point of worry for the Fed as it weighs whether a strong domestic
labor market and consumer demand is enough to offset the drag from a slowing China and spillover
to its commodity-exporting trading partners. (0830/1330)

LinkedIn Corp, the operator of the world's biggest professional networking website, is expected
to report fourth-quarter revenue and profit above analysts' expectations, according to Thomson
Reuters StarMine. Investors are keen to see how LinkedIn has built upon its growing recruitment
services business and how much revenue it has generated from advertisements and paid
memberships.

Charter Communications Inc, whose $56 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc is under U.S.
regulatory review, is expected to report fourth-quarter profit above analysts' average estimate,
according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) delayed by 15 days its informal deadline to review the proposed merger. Investors will
look for details on the deal, which has been approved by the companies' shareholders and most
U.S. states, but is awaiting clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC.

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc is expected to report fourth-quarter revenue slightly below analysts
average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Price hikes by its franchisees, in
response to the company's wage increase, is likely to have hurt traffic at Dunkin' Donuts
outlets in the quarter. Aggressive promotions by restaurant chains, including Wendy's "4 for $4"
deal and Burger King's $1.49 chicken nuggets, likely ate into the company's sales, analysts
believe. Investors will look for comments on the impact from the blizzard on the East Coast,
where the Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins owner has a huge presence.

ConocoPhillips, the largest independent U.S. oil and gas company, is expected to report a
fourth-quarter loss, compared with a year-earlier profit, as the downturn in crude oil prices
saps profits. Investors will look to see if the Houston-based company will cut its generous
dividend as a means of conserving cash.

Medical device maker Boston Scientific Corp is expected to report a fourth-quarter profit
slightly above the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. The
company's revenue is likely to have got a boost from sales of its cardiac stents and urologic
devices. Investors will watch for details on the company's two new heart devices, which are set
to be launched in the United States by the first half of 2016.

Cosmetics company Coty Inc is expected to reported second-quarter revenue in line with analysts'
estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Coty was on an acquisition spree in 2015 as
its looked to transform itself into a global beauty products giant amid weakness in its core
perfumes business. The company said it would reorganize and focus on growing its digital
capabilities to respond quicker to changing consumer behavior patterns. Coty agreed to buy over
40 brands from Procter & Gamble Co and the beauty care unit from Brazil's Hypermarcas to grow
its beauty business. Investors will look for future acquisitions and forecast for the year.
    
News Corp is expected to report second-quarter revenue and profit below analysts' estimates,
according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. The owner of the Wall Street Journal has reported three
straight quarters of revenue declines, mainly due to lower print ad sales and currency
headwinds. Investors will seek details on a turnaround in the Rupert Murdoch-controlled
company's news and information business. How the company diversifies and adapts to the digital
sphere, given its increasing struggles with the print business, will be in focus.

Antivirus software maker Symantec Corp is expected to report third-quarter revenue slightly
above analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Symantec, best known for
its Norton antivirus software, said earlier this month that it expected third-quarter revenue
and adjusted earnings to be above the midpoint of its forecasts. The company also said it would
receive $1 billion less in cash for its sales of data storage unit Veritas.

Walkie-talkie and radio systems maker Motorola Solutions Inc is expected to report
fourth-quarter revenue slightly above analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters
StarMine. The company is counting on its services business to drive growth. Last year, the
company said private equity firm Silver Lake would invest $1 billion and that it would buy
UK-based communications company Airwave Solutions Ltd to beef up that side of business.

Hurt by falling demand in an oversupplied market, Patterson-UTI Energy Inc is expected to post a
fourth-quarter loss, its third loss in as many quarters. The drilling contractor has cuts jobs
and scrapped oil rigs to cut costs as oil prices slump.

Online food order and delivery company GrubHub Inc is expected to report fourth-quarter profit
below analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. The company, which took only
meal orders previously, has been investing heavily in its food delivery business, which has hurt
margins. GrubHub bought a restaurant delivery service Delivered Dish and also expanded its
delivery service to Philadelphia.

New York Times Co's fourth-quarter profit is expected to miss analysts' estimates, according to
Thomson Reuters StarMine. NYT, like many newspaper and magazine publishers, has been under
relentless pressure to replace an evaporating pool of print ads dollars with digital ads and
money from subscriptions. The newspaper publisher aims to double its annual digital revenue to
$800 million by 2020 with a focus on winning over smartphone users. To broaden its advertising
stream, the company plans to bring virtual reality to its print subscribers by distributing
Google Cardboard headsets to view its new VR application and films.

PerkinElmer Inc, a laboratory equipment and environmental testing company, is expected to report
modestly higher fourth-quarter profit and sales. Investors will focus on the company's forecasts
for 2016 and any color from management on how capital spending by customers, particularly in
China, is likely to impact business this year.
    
Canadian telecom and media company BCE Inc reports fourth-quarter results and 2016 guidance.
Investors will be eager to hear how optimistic is the company about its prospects for 2016 and
whether it will hike its dividend. Its peer Rogers Communications surprised the market by
keeping its payout steady when it reported last week, while Shaw Communications also held off on
a raise earlier this month. Rising content costs may also squeeze BCE's media unit, while
competition was likely intense for wireless, a major growth driver.

Saputo Inc, whose brands include Dairyland milk and Armstrong cheese, reports third-quarter
results. The Montreal-based company's plans for mergers and acquisitions in countries such as
the United States and Brazil will be in focus.

MEG Energy Corp is expected to post a its sixth quarterly loss in a row. Sliding oil prices have
shaken the Canadian economy, known for its oil-rich resources. Investors will look for details
on the oil sands producer's cost cutting efforts.

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 (Compiled by Astha Rawat in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)