Markets opened slightly higher this morning, expecting good news from today’s report on existing home sales. Alas, the number came in lower than expectations and sent the DJIA to a daily low that it still hasn’t recovered from. The report itself wasn’t bad (our coverage here). The US dollar index rose fractionally today, now up 0.08% at 79.656. With some major exceptions, commodities fell on the dollar strength. The US EIA weekly petroleum report showed a drawdown of 1.2 million barrels in US inventories, sending crude prices higher (our coverage here). WTI crude oil closed up 0.9% at $106.96/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 0.06% at $124.19/barrel. Gold settled up 0.2% today, at $1,650.30/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 46 points to 13,124.62 (-0.35%), the NASDAQ rose more than 1 point (XXX%) to 3,075.32, and the S&P 500 fell -0.19% or nearly 3 points to 1,402.90.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) reiterated ‘outperform’ and target price raised to $55 at Credit Suisse; LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) started as ‘outperform’ at RBC; Royal Gold Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLD) raised to ‘outperform’ at National Bank; and Blackrock Inc. (NYSE: BX) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) is down -2.2% at $29.45 (more coverage here and here); General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is down -0.4% at $38.59; Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is down -7.2% at $7.88 (more coverage here); SAIC Inc. (NYSE: SAI) is up 3.8% at $13.65; Daquo New Energy Corp. (NYSE: DQ) is down -7.5% at $2.58; and Fred’s Inc. (NASDAQ: FRED) is up 2.4% at $14.38.
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) is down -10.3% at $3.83. The solar panel maker did not fare well in the anti-dumping suit brought against Chinese solar makers. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New unemployment benefits claims
- 10:00 a.m. – Federal Housing Finance Agency house price index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPs) auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply