Stocks got off on a positive note this morning, but resisted the temptation to climb based on a positive reading of the leading econonmic indicators and higher estimates of US GDP growth in the fourth quarter. Consumer spending appears to be higher than expected and retailers’ inventories are falling which should lead to some re-stocking before the holiday shopping season kicks in with real force. Crude oil prices have fallen about -1.4% today, to below $97.50/barrel. Volume has been reasonably heavy as today brings the expiration of options. Gold prices are up a bit at $1,725.80. See our earlier story on the countries that own the world’s gold.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 25 points to 11,796.23 (0.22%), the NASDAQ fell more than 15 points (-0.60%) to 2,572.50, and the S&P 500 fell 0.04% or about 0.48 points to 1,215.65.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), which was raised to ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee. Other action included The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) started as ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; Pepsico Inc. (NYSE: PEP) started as ‘hold’ at Jefferies; and Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) started as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.
Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Ann Inc. (NYSE: ANN) is down more than -6.6%, at $23.63; Cost Plus Inc. (NASDAQ: CPWM) is up more than 3%, at $7.88; H.J. Heinz Co. (NYSE: HNZ) is down more than -3%, at $51.06; America’s Car Mart, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRMT) is up more than 10%, at $35.84; Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) is down more than -10.5%, at $112.67; and The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) is down more than -8%, at $2.84, after posting a new 52-week low of $2.70 earlier today.
Several other standouts from today are as follows…
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CF) is up about 2.9%, at $152.46. The company’s stock got pounded yesterday on news that the corn prices fell, but are recovering a bit today as investors remember that falling corn prices don’t necessarily mean that less corn will be planted and, thus, less fertilizer will be used.
The Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) is up more than 4.6%, at $53.12. Another fertilizer maker that got slammed yesterday and is recovering somewhat today.
Fisher Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: FSCI) is up about 12.7%, at $29.20. The broadcast TV station operator has sold its Fisher Plaza building in Seattle for $160 million in cash to Hines Global REIT, Inc.
Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is down nearly -21%, at $1.47. The company is reported to be considering skipping a $237 million debt payment due in two weeks, raising fears that the wireless broadband provider could end up in bankruptcy.
Meritor, Inc. (NYSE: MTOR) is down about -9.7%, at $5.12, after posting a new 52-week low of $5.11 earlier in the day. Shares lost -17% earlier this week when the company lowered its guidance for 2012 and the stock was downgraded today from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’ at KeyBanc.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) is up more than ;6.8%, at $14.70. The chip maker reported so-so earnings yesterday, but strong positive statements by analysts at FBR and Citi have turned broken eggs into an omelette.
Stay tuned for Monday. Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank president Dennis Lockhart is speaking in Brazil. Here’s a list of other noteworthy events (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Federal Reserve Bank national activity index
- 10:00 a.m. – National Association of Retailers existing home sales report
Have a great weekend.