The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher this morning, reaching a peak after the first half-hour of trading following an inline report on new jobless claims (more coverage here) and no changes to interest rates in England (more coverage here) and the eurozone (more coverage here). Markets also likely reacted positively to Governor Romney’s performance in last night’s Presidential debate (more coverage here). The afternoon release of the minutes of the last FOMC meeting gave stocks a late afternoon boost (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.75% at 79.360. The GSCI commodity index is down 2.3% at 648.90, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed up 4.1% today, at $91.71 a barrel, gaining back all of yesterday’s loss. Brent crude trades 4% at $112.49 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.65% today to $3.417 per thousand cubic feet following the EIA’s weekly report on natural gas storage levels (more coverage here). Gold closed at $1,796.50 an ounce, up 0.9%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 80 points to 13,575.28 (0.60%), the NASDAQ rose more than 14 points (0.45%) to 3,149.46, and the S&P 500 rose 0.72% or more than 10 points to 1,461.41.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including MetroPCS Communications Inc. (NYSE: PCS) cut to ‘reduce’ at Nomura; Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) cut to ‘underperform’ at R.W. Baird (more coverage here); Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) raised to ‘buy’ at Nomura; and ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR) is up 0.2% at $39.08 and International Speedway Corp. (NASDAQ: ISCA) is down 12% at $25.05.
Before markets open on Friday we are scheduled to hear from Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ), which posted a new 52-week high of $34.93 earlier today in advance of tomorrow’s report. The new earnings season gets underway in earnest next week, with Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) scheduled to report on Tuesday.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Vringo Inc. (NYSEMKT: VRNG) is up 24.4% at $5.35 after posting a new 52-week high of $5.55 earlier today. The intellectual property company continues to ride the crest of a wave following a court’s dismissal of a request by Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) for summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by Vringo. Volume is again very heavy, at more than 30 million shares traded.
JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) is up 14.8% at $4.28. The solar panel maker had no news today and said it does not comment on unusual moves in its stock price. Could be short covering, although short interest is below 10% of the U.S.-traded shares.
NuVasive Inc. (NASDAQ: NUVA) is down 33.6% at $15.03. The medical device maker lowered its third quarter revenue estimate and the shares got pounded.
Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. (NYSE: GNK) is up 14.5% at $4.03. The dry bulk shipper is rising, as are many of its competitors, on hopes that government stimulus packages will boost demand for shipping. Anything’s possible.
Stay tuned for Friday. Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm payrolls and unemployment report
- 3:00 p.m. – Consumer credit