The three major U.S. stock indexes opened lower this morning and have wavered around the break-even line all day. European markets got things off to a slow start with concerns about Spain’s reluctance to request a full bailout from the European Central Bank. A survey of German economic confidence showed a bit more confidence than before, but the outlook remains gloomy (more coverage here). In Asia, the flare-up between China and Japan has led many Japanese-owned plants in China to close at least for one day. In the U.S., bellwether FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) met low expectations for its first fiscal quarter and lowered guidance for the second quarter and the full 2013 fiscal year (more coverage here). Less shipping means less demand for crude oil, leading to the energy sector weighing the market down today.
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.31% at 79.256. The GSCI commodity index is down 2.2% at 678.68, with commodities prices mostly lower again today. WTI crude oil closed down 1.4% today, at $95.29 a barrel (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 1.7% at $111.82 a barrel. Natural gas is down 3.4% today to $2.769 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,771.20 an ounce, up less than 0.1% for the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 11 points to 13,564.64 (0.09%), the NASDAQ fell about 1 point (-0.03%) to 3,177.80, and the S&P 500 fell -0.13% or nearly 2 points to 1,459. 32.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) cut to ‘sector perform’ with a target price of $24 at RBC; Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies; News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA) maintained as ‘hold’ at Argus; Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) started as ‘market perform’ at William Blair; and Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: MDRX) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $15 at Argus.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have been scarce, with FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) as the only report of note. Shares are down 2.9% at $86.69 in the last half hour of trading.
Before markets open in the morning we are scheduled to hear from Autozone Inc. (NYSE: AZO), Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL), and General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS). Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) reports tomorrow after the markets close.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Deckers Outdoor Corp. (NASDAQ: DECK) is down 8.1% at $44.08. The maker of Ugg boots or one of its overstocked distributors reportedly put in-season styles of the popular shoes on sale at an Internet discount site, causing worries about fall sales.
Schiff Nutrition International Inc. (NYSE: SHF) is up 15% at $24.04 after posting a new 52-week high of $24.15 earlier today. The vitamin and nutritional supplement maker posted better than expected results this morning.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke appears before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, and Kansas City Fed president Esther George and Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher are giving speeches. 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. – Housing starts
- 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report