US equities opened lower this morning, weighed down by an undistinguished earnings report from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM). More coverage here. Markets in Europe and Asia were higher on the sale of Italian and Spanish debt at lower-than-expected interest rates. The dollar gained strength throughout the day, putting downward pressure on commodities, and a story from Europe that countries would wait another six months to impose further sanctions on Iran pushed crude oil down even further. None of the three major indexes broke through to positive territory today. Crude oil is ending the day down, with WTI down -0.14% at $98.96/barrel and Brent crude is down -0.52% at $110.68/barrel. Gold closed at $1,636.90, down less than -1% on the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 49 points to 12,422.06 (-0.39%), the NASDAQ fell more than 14 points (-0.51%) to 2,710.67, and the S&P 500 fell -0.49% or more than 6 points to 1,289.10.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including VMWare Inc. (NYSE: VMW) cut to ‘sell’ with a target price of $80 at Citigroup; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) started as ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus; The Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) reiterated as ‘sell’ with lower estimates at Argus; and Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS) raised to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ at Citigroup.
Earnings reports since markets closed yesterday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: JPMorgan Chase & Co. is down -2.63% at $35.88; SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) is up 2.42% at $54.54; and JDA Software Group Inc. (NASDAQ: JDAS) is down nearly -14% at $28.21.
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
Georgia Gulf Corp. (NYSE: GGC) is up more than 34% at $32.85. The chemical and home products maker has received a buyout offer of about $1.03 billion ($30/share) from Westlake Chemical Corp. (NYSE: WLK).
Metabolix Inc. (NASDAQ: MBLX) is down about -58% at $2.52, after posting a new 52-week low of $2.51 earlier. The bioscience and chemicals company is suffering from the cancellation of a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM), which the larger company unexpectedly announced this morning.
Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) is down nearly -13% at $7.87. The coal miner lowered its production forecast and closed several operations. We have more coverage here.
Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is down more than -10% at $29.71. The snack food maker is now the subject of a criminal inquiry related to payments it made to farmers.
Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) is down more than -9% at $3.19. The China-based solar panel maker is among the group of Chinese makers who are cooling off, probably due to profit taking, after several days of sharp share price increases.
US markets are closed on Monday in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. We have the following events for Tuesday:
- 8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing survey
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month Treasury bill auctions
Have a great long weekend.