Markets opened mixed this morning but all three major indexes turned lower shortly thereafter and have continued to inch lower into the late afternoon. The selling is being pushed along by a significant rise in Spanish and Italian bond yields. German bunds and US Treasuries were in heavy demand, driving 10-year Treasury yields below 2%. The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.19% at 79.885. Commodities were mostly lower, with the biggest losers being orange juice, wheat, and cocoa. WTI crude oil closed down -1.4% at $101.02/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -2.23% at $119.93/barrel. Gold settled up 1% today, at $1,660.70/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 214 points to 12,715.93(-1.65%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 56 points (-1.83%) to 2,991.22, and the S&P 500 fell -1.71% or nearly 24 points to 1,358.59.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) raised to ‘equal-weight’ at Morgan Stanley; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; Westport Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT) started as ‘overweight’ at Piper Jaffray; Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) raised to ‘Top Pick’ at Citigroup; and Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Supervalu Inc. (NYSE: SVU) is up 15% at $6.12; API Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: ATNY) is down -0.03% at $3.36; and Central Bank Corp. (NASDAQ: CBKN) is down -1.24% at $2.30. After the markets close today we will hear from Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) and Health Care Services Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HCSG).
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
ViroPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: VPHM) is down nearly -21% at $22.75. The company’s Vancocin drug lost patent protection today and the Federal Trade Commission is looking at some of the company’s business practices. More coverage here.
Targacept Inc. (NASDAQ: TRGT) is down -12.5% at $4.24 after posting a new 52-week low of $4.16 earlier today. The drug maker revised the results of a drug study, which changed the outcome to indicate that its new asthma drug failed to meet some study targets.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, Kansas City Fed President Esther George, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, and Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen are all giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
7:00 a.m. – MBA purchase applications
8:30 a.m. – Export and import prices
10.30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
1:00 p.m. – 10-year note auction
2:00 p.m. – Treasury budget