24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell — August 17, 2012: Markets Up on Light Volume, Little Enthusiasm (GRPN, PSX, WLP, GTAT, KKD, ARO, CRMT, BRCD, GPS, MRVL, ANN, FL, SJM, COCO, LOW, URBN, BBY, TECD, WTSLA, CHS, HPQ, KYAK, ADSK, BIG, CKP)

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The three major US stock indexes opened higher this morning after the news that German chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would support European Central Bank sovereign bond buying. Unfortunately she doesn’t have the last word on this (our coverage here). Other data out of Europe was also positive. In Asia, hope still abounds that China will lower its reserve ratio, freeing up more cash for banks to lend. Today’s report on US consumer sentiment exceeded expectations (our coverage here). The Conference Board’s report on leading economic indicators also beat expectations (more coverage here).

The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.3% at 82.605. The GSCI commodity index rose 0.8% to 667.57, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil finished up 0.4% today, closing at $96.01/barrel, up 3.4% for the week. Brent crude trades down 1.33% at $113.74/barrel. Natural gas is down fractionally today to $2.722/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,619.40/ounce, up fractionally and down 0.2% for the week. Platinum added 2.5% to close at $1,473/ounce, up more than 5% for the week, following violence at a major South African mine (our coverage here).

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 25 points to 13,275.28 (0.19%), the NASDAQ rose more than 14 points (0.46%) to 3,076.59, and the S&P 500 rose 0.19% or nearly 3 points to 1,418.15.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) cut to ‘underweight’ at Evercore; Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) started as ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan; Wellpoint Inc. (NYSE: WLP) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley; GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) raised to ‘buy’ at Canaccord Genuity; and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (NYSE: KKD) started as ‘outperform’ at Wedbush Morgan.

Earnings reports since markets closed last last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) is down 11.1% at $12.15; America’s Car-Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: CRMT) is down 5.5% at $45.93; Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BRCD) is up 2.1% at $5.75; Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) is up 5% at $36.06 after posting a new 52-week high of $36.22 earlier today; Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL) is up 2% at $35.18 after posting a new 52-week high of $37.98 earlier today; and J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) is up 5.2% at $83.09 after posting a new 52-week high of $84.10 earlier today.

Earnings releases are slowing down, but reports scheduled before Monday’s open include Corinthian Colleges Inc. (NASDAQ: COCO) and Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW). Later in the week we expect to hear from Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY), Tech Data Corp. (NASDAQ: TECD), Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ: WTSLA), Chico’s FAS Inc. (NYSE: CHS), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Kayak Software Corp. (NASDAQ: KYAK), Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (NYSE: KKD), Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), and Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Checkpoint Systems Inc. (NYSE: CKP) is up 20.1% at $8.54. The retail security and solutions company had no news today, but one analyst has suggested the company as a possible buyout target.

Ann Inc. (NYSE: ANN) is up 21.8% at $34.26 after posting a new 52-week high of $34.37 earlier today. The women’s clothing retailer pounded estimates this morning.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) is down -14.3% at $10.52. The chipmaker missed EPS and revenue estimates last night as demand from storage providers and smartphone makers weakened.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions

Paul Ausick

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