Markets opened lower this morning and there was no news sufficient to unleash significant buying. The report on new claims for unemployment benefits came in about as expected (our coverage here), and investors are waiting for tomorrow’s official unemployment report, which is expected to be flat at 8.3%. The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.38% at 80.080. Commodities were mostly higher, with lumber and wool posting the largest gains. WTI crude oil closed up 1.8% at $103.31/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 0.90% at $123.44/barrel. Gold settled up 1% today, at $1,630.10/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 14 points to 13,060.14 (-0.11%), the NASDAQ rose more than 12 points (0.40%) to 3,080.50, and the S&P 500 fell -0.06% or less than 1 point to 1,398.08.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $730 at Argus; Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $40 at BofA/ML; Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $104 at BofA/ML; and Panera Bread Co. (NASDAQ: PNRA) started as ‘outperform’ with a $190 target price at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: AngioDynamics Inc. (NASDAQ: ANGO) is down -3.6% at $11.82 after posting a new 52-week low of $11.73 earlier today; Harry Winston Diamond Corp. (NYSE: HWD) is down -3.9% at $13.89; PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PSMT) is down -4.7% at $74.41; Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) is down -11.8% at $21.78; Pier One Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR) is up 3.1% at $18.83 (more coverage here); Carmax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) is down -4.5% at $33.34; and SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) is down -9.9% at $3.56 (more coverage here). After markets close today we get earnings from WD-40 Co. (NASDAQ: WDFC).
Next week marks the start of a brand new earnings season. See our preview here.
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
Polycom Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is down more than -20% at $14.51 after posting a new 52-week low of $14.41 earlier today. The videoconferencing/enterprise phone maker cut its first quarter outlook today. More coverage here.
Great Wolf Resorts Inc. (NASDAQ: WOLF) is up 15.8%% at $6.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $6.65 earlier today. The company could be the prize in a bidding war between two private equity firms. More coverage here.
Ruby Tuesday Inc. (NYSE: RT) is down -18.2% at $7.27. The restaurant operator missed earnings expectations this morning.
Stay tuned for Friday. US markets are closed for Good Friday, but we have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm payroll and unemployment rate
- 3:00 p.m. – Consumer credit