Stocks open slightly higher this morning, but quickly reversed course to begin falling in less than five minutes of trading. The DJIA hit a morning low just before noon and has bounced around off that ever since. The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 have followed the same pattern. Italy’s successful auction of short-term debt was quickly followed by a drop in the euro to below $1.30, where the single currency has remained throughout the day. Commodity prices have been generally lower today, although wheat, corn, and coffee have posted gains. Crude oil prices have fallen following a statement by Saudi Arabia that other countries would pick up any shortfall in crude deliveries caused by possible Iranian action in the Strait of Hormuz. Brent crude is down -1.85% at $107.42/barrel and WTI is down the same amount at $99.49/barrel. Gold is down sharply, nearly -2.5%, at $1,556.40/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 140 points to 12,151.64 (-1.14%), the NASDAQ fell more than 35 points (-1.34%) to 2,589.98, and the S&P 500 fell -1.25% or nearly 16 points to 1,249.66.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including BHP Billiton plc (NYSE: BHP) cut from ‘neutral’ to ‘underperform’ at Zack’s Investment Research; Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) target price and estimate lowered to $39 at JPMorgan; Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) maintained as ‘hold’ but estimates cut at Argus; Sears Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) maintained as ‘underperform’ and target price lowered to $20 at Credit Suisse; Parker Drilling Co. (NYSE: PKD) named ‘value stock of the day’ at Zack’s; and Delphi Automotive (NASDAQ: DLPH) started as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.
There are no earnings reports of note out yet today. After markets close today Piedmont Natural Gas Co. (NYSE: PNY) and Reading International Inc. (NASDAQ: RDI) are scheduled to report earnings.
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
Arctic Cat Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAT) is up more than 20% at $22.80, after posting a new 52-week high of $24 earlier today. The recreational vehicle maker announced that it had repurchased a 33% stake in the company owned by Suzuki, reducing outstanding shares by about a third.
Delcath Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: DCTH) is up nearly 11% at $3.38. The drug development company has received EU standards certification for its plant in Galway, Ireland.
Endeavor International Corp. (NYSE: END) is up nearly 11% to $8.78. The independent oil & gas company continues to receive attention for its purchase of North Sea assets from ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and an ratings upgrade from ‘market perform’ to ‘outperform’ at Rodman & Renshaw.
Molycorp shares are down nearly -14% at $24.12 after posting a new 52-week low of $24.03 earlier today. The rare earths miner was downgraded this morning and a Chinese announcement on exports of rare earth minerals are both weighing on the company. More on Molycorp here.
SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) is up more than 18% at $3.81. The LED lighting maker hit a technical target at around $3.29/share. Trading in SemiLEDS shares is about 6x average daily volume.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Here are the noteworthy events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment benefits claims
- 9:45 a.m. – Chicago PMI report
- 10:00 a.m. – National Association of Realtors pending home sales index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas status report
- 11:00 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply reports