U.S. equity markets opened flat to higher this morning but the good vibe didn’t last long. In Europe, the Bank of England made no changes either to interest rates or its bond buying program. Germany’s IFO business climate index rose a bit more than expected and industrial production in Italy was unchanged while Spanish production rose sharply — both readings were better than expected. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei rose above 10,000 for the first time since April as the yen continued to fall ahead of tomorrow’s decision from the Bank of Japan on whether or not to add more stimulus to the Japanese economy. Housing starts were lower than expected in the U.S. in November, but new building permits increased (more coverage here). News on the fiscal cliff negotiations took a turn south today, with a sure-to-be-ignored-by-the-President-and-Senate vote in the Republican-controlled House on a proposal dubbed ‘Plan B.’
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.10% at 79.283. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.5% at 640.18, with commodities prices mostly lower again today. WTI crude oil closed up 1.8% today, at $89.51 a barrel following today’s report on inventories (more coverage here). Brent crude trades up 1.4% at $110.37 a barrel. Natural gas is down 2.8% today at about $3.32 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down 0.2% today at $1,667.70 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 99 points to 13,251.90 (-0.74%), the NASDAQ fell about 10 points (-0.33%) to 3,044.36, and the S&P 500 fell -0.76% or about 11 points to 1,435.80.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) cut to ‘neutral’ at Cowen; SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE: SD) cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ONXX) started as ‘buy’ at UBS; and Panera Bread Co. (NASDAQ: PNRA) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wedbush.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in the following price change as of the last half hour of trading today: Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) is up 4.2% at $34.27 after posting a new 52-week high of $34.35 earlier today (more coverage here); FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) is up 1.5% at $93.73 (more coverage here); General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is down 1.2% at $41.29 (more coverage here); and Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) is down 8.8% at $20.83 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY), Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL), Paychex Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX), Carmax Inc. (NYSE: KMX), Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL), ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG), Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD), and Scholastic Corp. (NASDAQ: SCHL).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) is up 15.9% at $1.24. The solar panel maker is benefiting from a new policy statement from the Chinese government, which claims that the government will “reform” the industry by encouraging mergers and acquisitions, and by banning local governments from propping up local favorites with loans. Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) and LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) are both up more than 10% today.
THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI) is down 71.7% at $0.39 after posting a new 52-week low of $0.34 earlier today. The video game company filed for bankruptcy today and shares were halted briefly. More coverage here.
Oncothyreon Inc. (NASDAQ: ONTY) is down 52.9% at $2.12 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.71 earlier today. The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company failed to hit targets with its late-stage lung-cancer drug study.
Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – GDP
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 8:30 a.m. – Corporate profits
- 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales
- 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
- 10:00 a.m. – FHFA house price index
- 10:00 a.m. – Leading economic indicators
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 5-year TIPS auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply