Markets opened mixed this morning, with the DJIA showing much more strength than the S&P 500, which opened higher, or the Nasdaq, which opened lower. The S&P Case-Shiller house price index showed another decline in home prices (our coverage here), although new home sales rose slightly. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index was lower this month as well (our coverage here). Tech stocks have been weak all day as sentiment about the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) earnings report faltered following comments from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) related to iPhone connections (our coverage here). The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.25% at 79.220. The GSCI commodity index is down -0.28% at 675.82, with commodities mostly rising on the weaker dollar. WTI crude oil closed up 0.4% at $103.55/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -0.48% at $118.14/barrel. Gold settled up 0.7% today, at $1,643.80/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 74 points to 13,001.56 (0.58%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 9 points (-0.30%) to 2,961.60, and the S&P 500 rose 0.37% or about 5 points to 1,371.97.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) reiterated ‘buy’ with a target price of $13 at Argus; General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reiterated ‘buy’ with a target price of $22 at Argus; LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) started as ‘overweight’ at Piper Jaffray; Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank; and AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) raised to ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: AT&T is up 3.9% at $31.81; Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (NYSE: APD) is down -4.3% at $84.91; Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) is up 5.3% at $43.23 (more coverage here); Coach Inc. (NYSE: COH) is down -4% at $72.10 (more coverage here); Illinois Tool Works Inc. (NYSE: ITW) is up 2.7% at $56.71; McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (NYSE: MHP) is down -3% at $47.65; RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) is down -10.3% at $5.36 after posting a new 52-week intraday low of $5.27; Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF) is up 5.4% at $6.42; The Hershey Co. (NYSE: HSY) is up 5.7% at $65.86 after posting a new 52-week intraday high of $66.94; and Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is down -14.6% at $87.01.
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
North American Tankers Ltd. (NYSE: NAT) is up 1.5% at $14.01. Shipping rates for dry bulk shippers are rising and tanker rates, especially for the smaller (1 million barrels) crude carriers of the Suezmax class. Many other shippers are also getting a boost today, including Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (NASDAQ: EGLE), which is up 6.8% at $1.88.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee wraps up its two-day meeting and Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press conference this afternoon. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 11:30 a.m. – 5-yr note auction
- 2:00 p.m. – FOMC forecasts