U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following the report on U.S. non-farm payrolls and the U.S. unemployment rate. Payrolls rose by 171,000, better than expected, and the unemployment rate came in at 7.9% (more coverage here). In Asia, markets closed up slightly mostly on the strength of yesterday’s close in the U.S. In Europe, markets rose on the U.S. employment data and upwardly revised PMI data for Germany and France didn’t have much impact on investors. Dollar strength pushed down commodities prices and stocks in the materials sector fell sharply, with gold miners leading the march downward (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.6% at 80.527. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.2% at 63640.04, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed down 2.6% today, at $84.86 a barrel, as demand continues weak in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 2.6% at $105.62 a barrel. Natural gas is down 4.2% today at about $3.54 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,675.20 an ounce, down 2.4% for the day, and down 2.1% for the week for the yellow metal’s fourth straight weekly loss.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 140 points to 13,092.93 (-1.06%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 38 points (-1.26%) to 2,982.13, and the S&P 500 fell -0.94% or more than 13 points to 1,414.20.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including UBS AG (NYSE: UBS) raised to ‘buy’ at SocGen; General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) maintained as ‘outperform’ but target price cut to $35 at Credit Suisse; Guess? Inc. (NYSE: GES) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies; Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies; and Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports since U.S. markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Bankrate Inc. (NYSE: RATE) is down 1% at $10.94; Fluor Corp. (NYSE: FLR) is down 9.6% at $52.13; Green Dot Corp. (NYSE: GDOT) is up 1.6% at $10.67; Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) is down 0.5% at $46.24; Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN) is up 9% at $638.74; Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) is up 9.5% at $51.06 (more coverage here); Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) is down 14.8% at $20.49; First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is down 9.3% at $22.44 (more coverage here); Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) is down 3.1% at $108.01 (more coverage here); Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) is up 1.5% at $53.42; McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (NYSE: MHP) is down 3.9% at $54.31 after posting a new 52-week high of $56.75 earlier today; Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (NYSE: OZM) is down 0.1% at $10.01; and Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) is up 0.9% at $160.42 (more coverage here).
Before markets open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from American States Water Co. (NYSE: AWR), Bridgepoint Education Inc. (NYSE: BPI), Entergy Corp. (NYSE: ETR), Rockwell Automation Inc. (NYSE: ROK), Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE: SLW), Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY), Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG), and True Religion Apparel Inc. (NASDAQ: TRLG).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. (NASDAQ: BGFV) is up 35.5% at $12.09 after posting a new 52-week high of #12.74 earlier today. The sporting goods retailer beat earnings estimates last night and the stock was upgraded to a ‘strong buy’ at Needham this morning.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is down 8.4% at $18.38. The natural gas and oil producer met or beat estimates last night, but possible delays in asset sales into next year have given investors pause.
Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!