U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning boosted by higher-than-expected trade balances in China (more coverage here) and in the U.S. (more coverage here). In Europe the big news came later in the morning, with an agreement on the smaller European Union budget supported by U.K. Prime Minister Cameron (more coverage here). In Asia, the Chinese trade data was skewed by an extra five working days in January due to a later lunar New Year. U.S. equities posted early gains and held on to those gains through the day.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.09% today, now at 80.264. The GSCI commodity index is down about 0.3% at 674.01, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.1% today, at $95.72 a barrel, and post a drop of 2.1% for the week. Brent crude trades up 1.5% at $118.79 a barrel, opening spread of $22 between WTI and Brent prices. Natural gas is down 0.3% today at about $3.28 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.3% today at $1,666.90 an ounce, finishing the week down 0.2%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 48 points to 13,992.13 (0.34%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 29 points (0.91%) to 3,193.87, and the S&P 500 rose 0.56% or more than 8 points to 1,517.88.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $65 at Argus; Credit Suisse Group (NYSE: CS) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank; ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH) raised to ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse; Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) raised to ‘buy’ with a target price of $167 at Citigroup; and Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) raised to ‘outperform’ and target price raised to $47 at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) is up 11.3% at $13.42 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.94 earlier today; Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR) is down 6.8% at $48.54 (more coverage here); LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) is up 21.7% at $151.05, a new all-time high (more coverage here); Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD) is down 18% at $16.48; SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) is down 6.1% at $7.89 (more coverage here); AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is up 7.8% at $33.86 (more coverage here); Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) is up 3.3% at $22.88 after posting a new 52-week high of $23.88 earlier today; and Moody’s Corp. (NYSE: MCO) is down 8.6% at $42.97 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from Cameco Corp. (NYSE: CCJ), Loews Corp. (NYSE: L), Nordic American Tankder Ltd. (NYSE: NAT), and Wausau Paper Corp. (NYSE: WPP).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is up 12.3% at $3.47. The social game company continues to rise after pounding estimates earlier this week. The key for long-term growth remains Internet gambling, and that might be getting a bit closer.
Ceasars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) is up 38.4% at $13.94. The casino operator will get a significant share price boost if New Jersey approves online gambling. The governor vetoed an online gambling bill today, but asked for changes that would be acceptable to him.
Stay tuned for Monday. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month Treasury bill auctions
Have a great weekend!