U.S. equity markets opened flat this morning, largely due to a slew of data from Europe that essentially cancelled any good news with an equal dollop of bad. U.S. unemployment data came out before the market opened and was a bit worse than expected (more coverage here). In Europe, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank both kept key interest rates unchanged, Italy’s Monte del Paschi bank reported its derivatives loss at just short of $1 billion, France’s trade deficit was greater than expected, and German industrial production rose a bit more than expected. In Asia, traders were selling as we go into the lunar new year holiday weekend, which begins a week of exchange closures of different lengths in different markets. In the U.S., sellers outgunned buyers and a strengthening dollar held down energy and gold prices.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.61% today, now at 80.206. The GSCI commodity index is down about 0.1% at 676.14, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.8% today, at $95.83 a barrel, it’s lowest level in two weeks. Brent crude trades up 0.4% at $117.20 a barrel. Natural gas is down 3.6% today at about $3.29 per million BTUs after the EIA reported that inventories shrank less than expected (more coverage here). Gold settled down 0.5% today at $1,671.30 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 43 points to 13,943.17 (-0.31%), the NASDAQ fell more than 3 points (-0.11%) to 3,165.14, and the S&P 500 fell -0.19% or nearly 3 points to 1,509.30.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) raised to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan; Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) reiterated as ‘hold’ at Argus; AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) started as ‘neutral’ at Sterne Agee.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: FMC Corp. (NYSE: FMC) is down 3.4% at $59.74; Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is down 5.5% at $46.25 (more coverage here); IAC/InterActivecorp (NASDAQ: IACI) is up 1.8% at $43.78; Tesoro Corp. (NYSE: TSO) is up 2.9% at $52.65 after posting a new 52-week high of $53.14 earlier today; Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is down 2.3% at $157.20 (more coverage here); Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) is down 5.1% at $21.25 (more coverage here); Alcatel Lucent SA (NYSE: ALU) is down 7.1% at $1.59 (more coverage here); Bunge Ltd. (NYSE: BG) is down 8.6% at $72.56 (more coverage here); Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI) is up 2.6% at $61.19 after posting a new 52-week high of $61.23 earlier today; Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW) is down 7% at $5.44 after posting a new 52-week low of $5.01 earlier today; New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) is up 3.2% at $8.50; Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) is up 2.5% at $89.85 (more coverage here); Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) is down 1% at $5.71 (more coverage here); and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) is down 0.5% at $37.96.
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR), LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD), Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD), SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR), AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL), Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO), and Moody’s Corp. (NYSE: MCO).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
The ExOne Co. (NASDAQ: XONE) is up 49% at $26.80. The 3D printer company held its IPO today and went out big. More coverage here.
Sutor Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: SUTR) is up 60% at $1.62. The China-based steel products maker posted quarterly EPS that were double expectations.
Akamai Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) is down 15.9% at $34.97. The network and cloud company posted so-so revenues and light guidance after close last night..
Stay tuned for Friday. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – International trade
- 10:00 a.m. – Wholesale trade