U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning as traders and investors return from a long holiday weekend. In Asia, the Bank of Japan released minutes of its last meeting, which included a discussion of an additional round of fiscal stimulus. That wasn’t enough to boost Asian markets, though, which finished mixed for the day. In Europe, the independence vote in the Spanish region of Catalonia strongly favored separation from Spain, a move with as-yet unknown impact on Spain’s decision on whether or not to seek a bailout (more coverage here). Eurozone finance ministers are once again considering a haircut for Greek bondholders, although Germany continues to resist such a move (more coverage here). In the U.S., Black Friday sales were up or down, depending on whom you choose to believe (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.06% at 80.242. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.6% at 649.80, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.6% today, at $87.74 a barrel. Brent crude trades down about 0.4% at $110.89 a barrel. Natural gas is down 4.4% today at about $3.73 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down 0.1% today at $1,749.60 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 43 points to 12,967.06 (-0.33%), the NASDAQ rose about 10 points (0.33%) to 2,976.78, and the S&P 500 fell -0.20% or nearly 3 points to 1,406.28.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) cut to ‘neutral’ at Lazard; Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) added to ‘Conviction Buy’ list at Goldman Sachs; Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) raised to ‘outperform’ at BofA/ML (more coverage here); BHP Billiton plc (NYSE: BHP) started as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; and Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reiterated as ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank.
There have been no earnings reports of note today, and none scheduled after markets close either. Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to get earnings reports from ADT Corp. (NYSE: ADT) and Ralcorp Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RAH).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE: KCG) is up 16% at $2.89. The stock trading firm may be seeking a buyer for its market-making operation.
McMoRan Exploration Co. (NYSE: MMR) is down 20.8% at $9.86. The independent oil & gas company today reported progress on several wells, but no flow data.
EntreMed Inc. (NASDAQ: ENMD) is up 19.4% at $1.66. The biotechnology company reported favorable results from a preclinical study of its breast cancer drug.
Stay tuned for Tuesday. Dallas Fed Richard Fisher, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
- 9:00 a.m. – S&P Case-Shiller housing price index
- 10:00 a.m. – Conference Board consumer confidence index
- 10:00 a.m. – FHFA house price index
- 10:00 a.m. – Richmond Fed manufacturing index
- 11:30 a.m. – 4-week Treasury bill auction
- 1:00 p.m. – 7-year Treasury note auction