The three major US stock indexes opened modestly higher this morning as investors appear to have high hopes that tomorrow’s summit meeting of European Union leaders will lead to a resolution of the continent’s financial crisis. US durable goods orders were about double expectations, although when transportation goods are excluded the reading was a bit behind (our coverage here). Pending home sales jumped 5.9%, far better than the expected 0.5% gain, which helped markets maintain previous gains.
The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.3% at 82.622. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.9% at 572.64, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed up 1.1% at $80.21/barrel, on a smaller than expected drop in crude inventories (our coverage here). Brent crude trades up 0.62% at $93.60/barrel. Natural gas rose about 0.25% today to $2.774/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled up 0.2%, at $1,578.40/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 92 points to 12,627.08 (0.74%), the NASDAQ rose more than 21 points (0.74%) to 2,875.32, and the S&P 500 rose 0.90% or nearly 12 points to 1,331.85.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) cut to ‘sell’ at S&P Capital IQ and maintained ‘sell’ at Argus; News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA) raised to ‘buy’ at Needham; Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) maintained as ‘hold’ at Argus; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) reiterated as ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus; and Yandex N.V. (NASDAQ: YNDX) raised to ‘buy’ at UGBS. We also have a list of ratings for Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) as it comes off its 40-day quiet period today.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have been scarce, but here are some price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today: Sealy Corp. (NYSE: ZZ) is up 8.2% at $1.84; Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) is up 5% at $28.75 (more coverage here); General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is down -1.8% at $37.48 (more coverage here); and Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) is up 3.8% at $80.81. After markets close today and before they re-open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Flow International Corp. (NASDAQ: FLOW), Paychex Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX), American Greetings Corp. (NYSE: AM), Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO), and Greenbrier Companies Inc. (NYSE: GBX).
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA) is up 28.5% at $11.37 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.50 earlier today. The drug maker’s anti-obesity treatment received FDA approval, boosting some competitors as well. More coverage here.
Gevo Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO) is down -21.6% at $6.88. The biofuels maker said today that it would issue more stock and debt without specifying any amounts or dates. More coverage here.
O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: ORLY) is down -14.6% at $82.40. The company lowered guidance today, citing more new car sales as compared to keeping the old jalopy running.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher are giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – GDP report
- 8:30 a.m. – Corporate profits
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
- 1:00 p.m. – 7-year note auction
- 3:00 p.m. – Farm prices
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply