24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (AMZN, GRPN, RIO, TXN, GM, DDMG, CLRO, GPN, CMVT, ISCA, VRNG, WG, KERX, PNCL)

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Markets opened lower this morning but managed to recover fairly quickly following a report on robust manufacturing growth (our coverage here). The report on construction spending came in weaker than expected (our coverage here). The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.22% at 78.831. Commodities were mixed on the weaker dollar, with corn and soybeans rising and wheat falling. WTI crude oil closed up about 2.2% at $105.23/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 2.08% at $125.44/barrel. Gold settled up 0.5% today, at $1,679.70/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 52 points to 13,264.49 (0.40%), the NASDAQ rose more than 28 points (0.91%) to 3,119.70, and the S&P 500 rose 0.74% or more than 10 points to 1,418.89.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/ML; Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) cut to ‘sell’ at Stifel Nicolaus and cut to ‘neutral’ with a $20 target price at BofA/ML; Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RIO) raised to ‘overweight’ at Barclays; Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS; and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) started as ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Digital Domain Media Group Inc. (NYSE: DDMG) is down -1.6% at $5.60; ClearOne Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CLRO) is down -5.4% at $4.26; and Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN) is down -4.2% at $45.49. Before markets open tomorrow we’ll get earnings from Comverse Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: CMVT) and International Speedway Corp (NASDAQ: ISCA).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Groupon is down more than -16% at $15.31. The internet coupon company is restating earnings again. More coverage here and here.

Vringo Inc. (AMEX: VRNG) is up more than 84% at $3.04 after posting a new 52-week high of $3.09 earlier today. The ringtone company is merging with a patent protection firm. More coverage here.

Willbros Group Inc. (NYSE: WG) is up nearly 23% at $3.98. The oil & gas construction company had good news and bad news this morning. More coverage here.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: KERX) is down more than -64% at $1.78 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.63 earlier. The drug company’s colorectal cancer treatment failed a trial. More coverage here.

Pinnacle Airlines Corp. (NASDAQ: PNCL) is down nearly 51% at $0.67 after posting a new 52-week low of $0.50 earlier. The US air carrier has filed for bankruptcy protection. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. Automakers will be reporting March sales throughout the day. San Francisco Fed President John Williams is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 10:00 a.m. – Factory orders
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4- and 52-week bill auctions
  • 4:30 – FOMC minutes released

Paul Ausick

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