(PMI) U.S. Manufacturing Outlook Not That Bad

The busy economic docket of this first day of July notwithstanding, Stocks may not do much today ahead of the July 4th weekend. But they have done plenty lately. In fact, the sharp gains in the last few days enabled the market to recoup earlier losses and effectively break-even for the quarter. And today’s ISM Manufacturing report is expected to show that this late-quarter surge was not solely due to optimism about Greece.

The better-than-expected Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) on Thursday provided a favorable backdrop for the June ISM Manufacturing report coming out today. The reassuring aspect of the Chicago PMI read reflects the auto-centric nature of the region’s manufacturing base. Please recall that it was Japan-related issues in the auto industry that drove the decelerating trend in the nation’s manufacturing sector.

The late monthly release of the Chicago PMI is also significant as it likely enabled this regional survey to capture improvements in business conditions in the second half of June that earlier manufacturing reports may not have encountered. Of the earlier regional manufacturing surveys, the Empire State and Philly Fed had been disappointingly weak.

All in all, this favorable manufacturing trend should strengthen the case for a second-half recovery following a Japan-related temporary pause in the second quarter. Confirmation of this trend in the coming days will prove that the late-quarter surge in the market was not solely due to optimism about the Greek story, but was partly inspired by fundamental improvements in the economy.

In corporate news, Eastman Kodak (EK) was disappointed by a delay in its patent case against Apple (AAPL) and Research In Motion (RIMM). The company expects to extract roughly $1 billion in licensing fees from these two companies as a result of a favorable outcome in the case.

On the earnings front, Darden Restaurants (DRI) came out with inline resuslts, but the owner of Olive Garden boosted dividned by 34%. Results from Apollo Group (APOL) came in better than expected, though student enrollment rates for the for-profit school operator were still on the weak side.

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