U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning as last Friday’s Moody’s downgrade of the European Stability Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Fund were overridden by a PMI reading for the eurozone came in at its estimated level. In Asia, markets were mixed as China’s PMI reading was the highest in seven months but still below expectations. In the U.S., the November ISM index came in lower than expected (more coverage here) and U.S. construction spending rose in October by more than expected (more coverage here). Automakers reported November U.S. sales today that indicate a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 15 to 15.3 million units sold for 2012 (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.35% at 79.875. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.1% at 650.05, with commodities prices mostly higher today on the weaker greenback. WTI crude oil closed up 0.2% today, at $89.09 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.4% at $110.79 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.1% today at about $3.60 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled up 0.5% today at $1,721.10 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 59 points to 12,966.14 (-0.46%), the NASDAQ fell about 8 points (-0.27%) to 3,002.20, and the S&P 500 fell -0.47% or nearly 7 points to 1,409.47.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) cut to ‘sell’ with a target price of $10 at Canaccord Genuity; Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Qlogic Corp. (NASDAQ: QLGC) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Deckers Outdoor Corp. (NASDAQ: DECK) raised to ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee; and Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) raised to ‘buy’ with a $13 target price at Goldman Sachs.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) is up 7.1% at $2.36. The chipmaker is still getting a bump from the sale/leaseback deal on its facility in Austin, and there’s talk that the company’s recent foray into the ARM processor business could lead to a sale of the company.
Cleantech Solutions International Inc. (NASDAQ: CLNT) is up 21.3% at $4.85. The component maker’s CEO and his wife have agreed to purchase 157,966 shares of the company’s stock at $3.88 a share.
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is down 9.8% at $2.22. The social networking game company lost two more executives today, and there’s still concern about the company’s future following the loosening of contract ties with Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB).
Stay tuned for Tuesday. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:45 a.m. – ICSC-Goldman store sales
- 8:55 a.m. – Redbook
- 11:30 a.m. – 4-week Treasury bill auction