U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following yesterday’s gains with another good start. In Asia, the North Korean rocket launch did not cause markets to run for cover and a very solid report on India’s industrial production pushed major indexes to decent gains. In Europe, Greece got agreement from bondholders to repurchase about €32 billion for about a third of the bonds’ face value. The U.K. unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8% and German CPI was inline with expectations. In the U.S., mortgage applications rose again this week interest rates fell to a 22-year low (more coverage here). But all eyes were focused on the afternoon’s Fed open market committee announcement (more coverage here) and Ben Bernanke’s press conference, which promptly sent stocks on a steep downhill slide.
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.3% at 79.819. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.1% at 631.93, with commodities prices mixed again today. WTI crude oil closed up 1.1% today, at $86.77 a barrel, following a slight reported drop in crude inventories (more coverage here). Brent crude trades up 1.6% at $109.73 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.9% today at about $3.38 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled up 0.5% today at $1,717.90 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 3 points to 13,245.52 (-0.02%), the NASDAQ fell more than 8 points (-0.28%) to 3,013.81, and the S&P 500 rose 0.05% or less than 1 point to 1,428.50.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) started as ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan; Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) reiterated as ‘outperform’ with a target price of $48 at Credit Suisse; Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) cut to ‘underweight’ at JPMorgan; Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA) started as ‘underweight’ at JPMorgan; and FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) cut to ‘outperform’ at Raymond James.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in the following price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today: Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is down 0.4% at $97.95 and Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY) is up 4.1% at $60.24.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RH), Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN), Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV), and Pier One Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Real Goods Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: RSOL) is down 13.4% at $0.87. The solar PV installer is likely suffering from contamination due to SolarCity’s postponed and lower-priced IPO. More coverage of the Solarcity story here.
YM BioSciences Inc. (NYSEMKT: YMI) is up 75.8% at $2.87 after posting a new 52-week high of $2.92 earlier today. The Canadian cancer drug developer is being acquired by Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) for $2.95 a share, or a total of $510 million.
ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) is up 19.1% at $1.69. The solar PV maker is among a handful of the Chinese makers who stand to benefit from a new round of Chinese government subsidies. Other big movers today include Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. (NYSE: YGE), up 18.2%; JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS), up 18.5%, JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO), up 17.6%, LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK), up 13.5%, and Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ), up 12.5%.
Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is up XX% at $XX. The smartphone maker continues to attract buzz and investors in advance of its January 30th launch of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and handsets.
Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 8:30 a.m. – Producer price index
- 8:30 a.m. – Retail sales
- 10:00 a.m. – Business inventories
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 30-year bond auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply