U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning and only the Dow was able to break into positive territory even briefly. There was no terrible news, but there was no unexpected big, good news either. In Europe, the flash PMI readings from France and Germany were disappointing and new car sales in Europe are at their lowest point in 19 years (more coverage here). In Asia, China’s flash manufacturing PMI reading was above 50 for the second consecutive month and that sparked a rally on Asian markets, which posted the biggest gains in Chinese shares in more than three years. In the U.S., the consumer price index for November came in lower than expected (more coverage here), and industrial production was higher than expected.
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.44% at 79.580. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.9% at 631.38, with commodities prices higher today. WTI crude oil closed up 1% today, at $86.73 a barrel, and up 0.9% for the week. Brent crude trades up 1.6% at $108.15 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1% today at about $3.31 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled flat today at $1,697.00 an ounce but was down 0.5% for the week.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 34 points to 13,136.40 (-0.26%), the NASDAQ fell almost 21 points (-0.70%) to 2,971.33, and the S&P 500 fell -0.41% or nearly 6 points to 1,413.61.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including BP plc (NYSE: BP) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs, Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) started as ‘outperform’ at Macquarie; Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) started as ‘market perform’ at BMO; and Wynn Resorts Ltd. (NASDAQ: WYNN) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS.
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: Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) is up 6.1% at $37.71 after posting a new 52-week high of $38.10; Quicksilver Inc. (NYSE: ZQK) is down 13.9% at $3.51; and VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) is down 10.7% at $29.67.
After markets close today and before they open on Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from Rick’s Cabaret International Inc. (NASDAQ: RICK).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is up 6.5% at $3.37 after posting a new 52-week high of $3.38 earlier today. The wireless carrier put up a second consecutive high today as investors look forward to a battle over valuation now that Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) has kicked off the bidding. More coverage here.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is down 3.8% at $509.40. The computer maker’s shares were hit by a lowered price target from UBS though the ‘buy’ rating was maintained. Apple led the slide in the Nasdaq index today.
Stay tuned for Monday. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing survey
- 9:00 a.m. – Treasury International Capital (TIC) data
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
- 1:00 p.m. – 2-year note auction
Have a great weekend.