U.S. equity markets opened essentially flat this morning on a day when not much new data was released. In Europe, unemployment data from Spain was awful, but not as bad as many had feared (more coverage here). The British Chamber of Commerce lowered its estimate for U.K. GDP growth from 1.2% to 1% in 2013 and from 2.2% to 1.8% in 2014. Asian markets responded with a yawn to a 0.25% rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Japanese markets reacted badly to soft U.S. manufacturing data from yesterday.
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.31% at 79.634. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.1% at 650.78, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.7% today, at $88.50 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 1% at $109.83 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.5% today at about $3.54 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down 1.5% today at $1,695.80 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 14 points to 12,951.70 (-0.11%), the NASDAQ down more than 5 points (-0.18%) to 2,996.69, and the S&P 500 fell -0.17% or more than 2 points to 1,407.04.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Demand Media Inc. (NYSE: DMD) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; IAC/InteractiveCorp (NASDAQ: IACI) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) reiterated as ‘sell’ at Argus; Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN) started as ‘buy’ at Citigroup; and Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) raised to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in several price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today: Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY) is down 12.6% at $9.33; Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG) is up 11.6% at $31.29 (more coverage here); Autozone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) is down 3% at $366.83 (more coverage here); Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) is up 0.5% at $32.59 (more coverage here); and Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) is down 8.2% at $51.25.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) is down 10.5% at $30.88. The apparel retailer has confirmed that it will not pay a special dividend causing despair among many investors.
Net 1 Ueps Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: UEPS) is down 61% at $3.06 after posting a new all-time low of $3.01 earlier today. The electronic payments company has said it is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 8:15 a.m. – ADP employment report
- 8:30 a.m. – Productivity and costs report
- 10:00 a.m. – Factory orders
- 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report