U.S. equity markets opened mixed this morning, with the Nasdaq Composite lower on a weak quarterly earnings report last night from Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC). The big news for today came out of China, where the government reported 2012 GDP growth of 7.9%, slightly better than the estimate of 7.8% (more coverage here). Fixed asset investment and industrial production also finished the year with growth slightly above expectations. In Europe, new industrial orders slipped into negative territory in Spain and Italy, where both had been expected to post small positive gains. Retail sales in the U.K. were also slightly negative compared with expectations of a small increase. In the U.S., the consumer sentiment index took a nose dive as well (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.44% today, now at 79.992. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.8% at 658.12, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.1% today, at $95.56 a barrel to close the week up 2.1%. Brent crude trades up 0.8% at $111.90 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.2% today at about $3.57 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.2% today at $1,687.00 an ounce, and closed the week up 1.6%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 53 points to 13,649.70 (0.39%), the NASDAQ fell more than 1 point (-0.04%) to 3,134.71, and the S&P 500 rose 0.34% or about 5 points to 1,485.98.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT) raised to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Credit Suisse Group (NYSE: CS) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) raised to ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) cut to ‘neutral’ at Baird.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) is down 1.9% at $59.59 (more coverage here); Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is down 6.8% at $21.13 (more coverage here); Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) is down 7.7% at $56.84; General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is up 3.9% at $22.13 (more coverage here); Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI) is down 3.2% at $30.94; Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is up 8% at $22.40 after posting a new 52-week high of $22.46 earlier (more coverage here); Rockwell Collins Inc. (NYSE: COL) is down 1.9% at $59.04 after posting a new 52-week high of $61.84 earlier today; Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) is up 4.1% at $76.39 (more coverage here); and SunTrust Banks inc. (NYSE: STI) is down 1.8% at $29.03.
U.S. markets are closed Monday in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Before markets open on Tuesday we are scheduled to get earnings report from Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) is down 10.2% at $2.46. The semiconductor maker is down sharply in sympathy with Intel.
James River Coal Co. (NASDAQ: JRCC) is up 10.1% at $3.16. The coal mining stocks are getting a bounce today from the strong GDP growth report out of China.
U.S. markets are closed Monday. Stay tuned for Tuesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
- 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales
- 10:00 a.m. – Richmond Fed manufacturing index
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month Treasury bill auctions
Have a great weekend!