U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following a string of solid earnings reports yesterday and after markets closed last night. As we note below, earnings results were more mixed today, but shares held on to their opening gains throughout the day. In Asia, some investors are disappointed in Japan’s easy money decision and the only data point of note came from Australia, where the consumer price index rose just 0.2% quarter-over-quarter. In Europe, British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on the country’s European Union membership by 2017 (provided he’s still in office). In the U.S., the U.S. House of Representatives pushed a decision on the debt ceiling out until May, but two other critical deadlines face the Congress in March (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.08% today, now at 79.939. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.5% at 664.07, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed down 1.5% today, at $95.23 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.4% at $110.61 a barrel. Natural gas is flat today at about $3.56 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.4% today at $1,686.70 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 67 points to 13,779.10 (0.49%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 11 points (0.33%) to 3,153.67, and the S&P 500 rose 0.15% or about 2 points to 1,494.78.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) raised to ‘market perform’ at Bernstein; General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $25 at Argus; Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $50 at Canaccord Genuity; Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) cut to ‘hold’ and price target raised to $15 at Deutsche Bank; and Incyte Corp. (NASDAQ: INCY) cut to ‘underweight’ at Morgan Stanley.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in several price moves today, including these: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) is up 11.4% at $2.73 (more coverage here); CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) is up 4.2% at $21.68 (more coverage here); Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is up 5.9% at $744.27 (more coverage here); International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is up 4.8% at $205.57 (more coverage here); International Game Technology Inc. (NYSE: IGT) is down 1.8% at $14.94; Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) is down 0.9% at $33.15; Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) is down 0.3% at $32.80; Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) is up 0.9% at $45.23 (more coverage here); Coach Inc. (NYSE: COH) is down 16.3% at $50.80 (more coverage here); General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) is up 0.8% at $71.28; McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) is up 0.5% at $93.44 (more coverage here); and U.S. Airways Group Inc. (NYSE: LCC) is up 1.7% at $15.10 after posting a new 52-week high of $15.64 earlier today (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amgen Corp. (NASDAQ: AMGN), Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK), F5 Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), Noble Corp. (NYSE: NE), NVR Inc. (NYSE: NVR), Western Digital Corp. (NYSE: WDC), 3M Corp. (NYSE: MMM), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY), Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), Raytheon Inc. (NYSE: RYN), Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP), United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL), and Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
MAP Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: MAPP) is up 58.7% today at $24.73 after posting a new 52-week high of $24.77 earlier. The developmental drug maker is being acquired by Allergan Inc. (NYSE: AGN) for about $958 million, or $25 a share.
Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ: NMRX) is down 14.3% at $11.67. The machine-to-machine technology firm priced a secondary offering at a 17% discount to last night’s closing price.
Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) is down 11.4% at $7.82. The rare earths miner issued an earnings warning this morning and proposed to raise a total of $300 million by selling stock and issuing debt. More coverage here.
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
- 8:58 a.m. – Flash PMI manufacturing index
- 10:00 a.m. – Leading indicators
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 11:00 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
- 1:00 p.m. – 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply