U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning but quickly turned south and bounced around lower all day. In Europe, the eurozone notched its second consecutive quarter of negative GDP growth, tossing the single currency group into an official recession (more coverage here). In Asia, China’s new leadership was officially announced today and Japan’s Nikkei index hopped nearly 2% on an announcement from the leader of the country’s opposition party that he would urge the Bank of Japan to lower its interest rate to zero, or even below. New U.S. jobless claims skyrocketed, the consumer price index came in as expected (up 0.1%), and the Empire State manufacturing survey came in around its expected level (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose slightly today, now up 0.01% at 81.065. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.6% at 637.39, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed down 1% today, at $85.45 a barrel, following a mostly inline report on inventories (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down about 0.4% at $108.03 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.3% today at about $3.71 per thousand cubic feet, following a reported drawdown that was again inline with expectations (more coverage here). Gold settled down 0.9% today at $1,713.80 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 29 points to 12,541.62 (-0.23%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 10 points (-0.35%) to 2,836.94, and the S&P 500 fell -0.16% or about 2 points to 1,353.30.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Walter Energy Co. (NYSE: WLT) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/ML; Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $19 at Argus; Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) raised to ‘buy’ at CLSA; and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) reiterated as ‘outperform’ with a target price of $750, with near-term risk-reward prices of $520 and $630 at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports of interest since U.S. markets closed last night have resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) is down 18.3% at $1.70 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.69 earlier today; NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) is up 11.1% at $30.13; PetSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) is up 3.9% at $67.40; Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPB) is up 0.3% at $43.42; GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) is up 4.6% at $24.56 (more coverage here); Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) is down 1.4% at $54.35; Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB) is up 2.8% at $49.33; Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) is up 1.8% at $62.48 (more coverage here); and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is down 3.7% at $68.71 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT), Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL), Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL), and J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Velti Plc (NASDAQ: VELT) is down 33.9% at $4.39 after posting a new 52-week low of $4.27 earlier today. The Ireland-based software maker posted a loss last night and said today that it will sell some of its businesses in countries with weak economies.
Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is down 21.7% at $15.26 after posting a new low of $14.50 earlier today. The snack food maker dumped $56.5 million in profits when it restated previous earnings. More coverage here.
Bluegreen Corp. (NYSE: BXG) is up 55.9% at $9.67, after posting a new 52-week high of $9.67 earlier today. The resort time-share company agreed to be acquired by BFC Financial Corp. for shares last year, but the offer was today switched to $10 a share, all in cash. BFC already owns 54% of Bluegreen and has topped a competing offer from Diamond Resorts for $6.50 a share in cash.
Stay tuned for Friday. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 9:00 a.m. – Treasury International Capital (TIC) data
- 9:15 a.m. – Industrial production