US stock markets rallied on the first morning of trading in the new year. Index futures were up sharply and trading zoomed past the mark to rise more than 2%. Strong manufacturing data from Asia gave US markets a nice boost, as did a better-than-expected report on the ISM index and a rise in US construction spending. The S&P 500 could not overcome a technical barrier, causing the market to move mostly sideways in the afternoon. Crude oil rose steeply on a weaker dollar and on the better economic news. WTI crude is up more than 4% at $103.00/barrel and Brent crude is up 4.76% at $112.14. Gold is also stronger today, up about 2.5%, at $1,605.80.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 180 points to 12.397.46 (1.47%), the NASDAQ rose more than 43 points (1.67%) to 2,648.72, and the S&P 500 rose 1.55% or more than 19 points to 1,277.05.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) had its target price lowered to $513 at Morgan Keegan; General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP) cut from ‘outperform’ to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA) raised to ‘outperform’ with a target price of $90 at Baird; Prologis Inc. (NYSE: PLD) started as ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; Akamai Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ at Janney Capital Markets; and Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM) cut to ‘sell’ at Janney.
There were no earnings reports of note scheduled today. Progress Software Corp. (NASDAQ: PRGS) is scheduled to report earnings at 4:30 p.m. today.
Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp. (NASDAQ: OSH) completed an IPO today. Shares were initially priced at $25 and rose as high as $60 during the day before settling to $27.05, up more than 8% with less than half an hour of trading time left.
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
Aveo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AVEO) is down more than -19% at $13.90. The pharmaceutical maker reported that its liver cancer drug performed better than a competitor in late-stage trials, but investors were expecting a larger improvement.
Kior Corp. (NASDAQ: KIOR) is down more than -10% at $9.12. The alternative fuel maker had no news, but is likely getting bashed on the expiration of US ethanol subsidies.
Avino Silver & Gold Mines Ltd. (AMEX: ASM) is up nearly 17% at $1.66. The junior miner is riding the coattails of an overall upsurge in materials stocks today, which have been leading the markets higher all day.
A123 Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: AONE) is up more than 24% at $2.00. The battery maker is a partner with Satcon Technology Corp. (NASDAQ: SATC) in a demonstration project on micro-grid energy storage for the US Department of Defense.
American Realty Investors Inc. (NYSE: ARL) is up more than 12% at $2.10. The real estate investment company has no news, but continues to rise on upbeat news about the housing market.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. Automakers are scheduled to release sales data throughout the day. US seasonally adjusted annual sales are expected to remain at 13.6 million cars and light trucks. Here are the noteworthy events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 10:00 a.m. – Factory orders report for November (consensus estimate for gain of 2%)
- 11:30 a.m. – 4-week Treasury bill auction