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Markets opened higher this morning although a decline in tech stocks weighed on the Nasdaq, leaving the index with only a small gain going into the last hour of trading. Energy stocks boosted the Dow and the S&P. Asian and European markets were higher today, except in Japan, where tech stocks held the market down. The IMF’s attempts to build its Eurozone firewall fund to around $400 million are meeting with mixed success, with the failure of the BRIC countries to jump on board (our coverage here). The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.46% at 79.193. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 672.63, with most commodities gaining on the falling dollar. WTI crude oil closed up 0.8% at $103.05/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 0.54% at $118.64/barrel. Gold settled up 0.01% today, at $1,642.80/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 65 points to 13,029.19 (0.5%), the NASDAQ fell more than 7 points (-0.24%) to 3.000.45, and the S&P 500 rose 0.12% or nearly 2 points to 1,378.53.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) cut to ‘sell’ at Credit Agricole; Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; Boston Beer Co. Inc. (NYSE: SAM) started as ‘neutral’ at UBS; Embraer SA (NYSE: ERJ) cut to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; and Plains All American Pipeline L.P. (NYSE: PAA) started as ‘overweight’ at Barclays.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is up 1.4% at $19.41 (more coverage here); McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) is up 0.7% at $95.90 (more coverage here); Kimberly-Clark Corp. (NYSE: KMB) is up 1.6% at $76.50 after posting a new 52-week intraday high of $77.09 (more coverage here); Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) is down -0.4% at $34.55; Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) is down -8.1% at $35.38; Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) is up 0.05% at $53.96; Hanesbrands Inc. (NYSE: HBI) is up 11.7% at $30.09 (more coverage here); Sandisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) is down -12.2% at $35.55 (more coverage here); KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) is down -0.06% at $7.87; American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) is up 1.1% at $38.29; Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CP) is up 0.8% at $77.08 (more coverage here); Cell Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CTIC) is flat at $1.16; and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) is down -7.8% at $26.61.

We have a preview of next week’s big earnings reports here.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) is down -8% at $6.19. The coal miner announced another mine closure today, along with a lowered production estimate. Patriot is scheduled to report earnings after markets close today.

Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD) is down -28.6% at $19.89. The network equipment maker missed earnings expectations. More coverage here.

Rambus Inc. (NASDAQ: RMBS) is down -12% at $4.92. The dhip maker missed EPS estimates today and offered a lower-than-expected forecast.

Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6- month bill auction

Have a great weekend.

Paul Ausick