U.S. equity markets opened slightly higher this morning, but by the end of the first hour stocks had turned south and remained in negative territory throughout the rest of the day. In Europe, the ECB and the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged today (more coverage here) and the Greek parliament approved a $17.6 billion spending cut after reporting its worst unemployment rate ever (more coverage here). In Asia, the Chinese Communist Party meeting is the big news, but several data points are due out tomorrow, including industrial production. In the U.S., new claims for unemployment fell (our coverage here), and the September trade deficit was lower than expected (more coverage here). The second straight post-election down day is generally blamed on heightened concern about the fiscal cliff and its promise of tax increases and spending cuts.
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.07% at 80.818. The GSCI commodity index is down 2.4% at 629.00, with commodities prices again mostly lower today on the stronger dollar. WTI crude oil closed up XX% today, at $85.09 a barrel. Brent crude trades up about 0.5% at $107.32 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.9% today at about $3.61 per thousand cubic feet, following a somewhat smaller-than-expected inventory build (more coverage here). Gold closed at $1,726.00 an ounce, up 0.7% for the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA fell nearly 121 points to 12,81.78 (-0.94%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 42 points (-1.42%) to 2,895.58, and the S&P 500 fell -1.22% or nearly 17 points to 1,377.52.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) raised to ‘neutral’ at UBS; Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) raised to ‘buy’ at Canaccord Genuity (more coverage here); Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) raised to ‘sector perform’ at RBC; Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) raised to ‘buy’ at ISI Group; and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) raised to ‘buy’ at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Earnings reports since U.S. markets closed last night have resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) is down 1.9% at $10.92; CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is up 4.4% at $39.54; Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) is up 0.4% at $2.60; Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) is down 0.7% at $44.65 after posting a new 52-week low of $39.99 earlier today; Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ: PAAS) is down 4.5% at $20.46; Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM) is down 5.8% at $90.41; Carlyle Group LP (NASDAQ: CG) is down 0.2% at $25.55; Dean Foods Inc. (NYSE: DF) is up 2.6% at $16.50 (more coverage here); Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) is down 4.7% at $51.75 (more coverage here); and The Wendy’s Co. (NASDAQ: WEN) is up 3.9% at $4.43 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Career Education Corp. (NASDAQ: CECO), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN), Kayak Software Corp. (NASDAQ: KYAK), Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: LGF), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), Foster Wheeler AG (NASDAQ: FWLT), and J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
SandRidge Energy Co. (NYSE: SD) is up 2.7% at $6.16. The oil & gas company got a nasty letter from hedge fund investor TPG-Axon. Volume is very heavy at more than 34 million shares traded. More coverage here.
Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is up 3.2% at $3.88. The daily deals company has confirmed that it has laid off about 80 people, a tiny fraction of the company’s 12,000+ employees, ahead of its earnings report after markets close today. More coverage here.
Westport Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT) was up 0.9% at $23.57 until shares were halted shortly before 3:00 p.m. ET today. The clean diesel technology maker has reported poor quarterly earnings.
Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Import and export prices
- 9:55 a.m. – University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index
- 10:00 a.m. – Wholesale trade