U.S. equity markets opened mixed this morning, but some initial enthusiasm wore off by mid-morning and stocks moved slightly lower throughout the day. In Europe, unemployment rose more than expected (more coverage here) and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said that the eurozone crisis would begin to abate in the second half of next year (more coverage here). In Asia, Japan kicked out another $11 billion in stimulus and India reported lower-than-expected GDP growth. In the U.S., the Chicago PMI came in lower than expected (more coverage here) and the report on personal income and spending was also a disappointment (more coverage here). In the afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner said that negotiations on the fiscal cliff are “almost nowhere.” That depressed equities even more, although traders pulled out an essentially flat close.
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.07% at 80.149. The GSCI commodity index is up 1% at 649.34, with commodities prices mixed again today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.6% today, at $88.61 a barrel, and finishes the month 2% higher. Brent crude trades up 0.3% at $111.10 a barrel. Natural gas is down 2.4% today at about $3.56 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down 1% today at $1,712.70 an ounce, and finished the month down 0.5%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 3 points to 13,024.66 (0.02%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 2 points (-0.06%) to 3,010.24, and the S&P 500 rose 0.02% or less than 1 point to 1,416.18.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) started as ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) raised to ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) maintained as ‘outperform’ with a target price of $76.50 at Credit Suisse; Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) started as ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: WPI) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $100 at Argus.
Earnings reports of interest since U.S. markets closed last night have resulted in price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Avago Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) is down 0.5% at $34.93; OmniVision Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: OVTI) is 5% at $15.10; Youku Tudou Inc. (NYSE: YOKU) is up 1.1% at $17.07; Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) is down 1.1% at $20.52 after posting a new 52-week low of $18.58 earlier today (more coverage here); ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) is up 9.3% at $1.29 (more coverage here); and WhiteWave Foods Co. (NYSE: WWAV) is down 3.4% at $15.07 (more coverage here).
Before markets open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear only from LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK), as earnings season winds down.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is down 9.8% at $4.10. The daily deals company’s board had decided to retain the current CEO.
Stay tuned for Monday. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:58 a.m. – PMI manufacturing index
- 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index
- 10:30 a.m. – Construction spending
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month Treasury bill auction
Have a great weekend!