U.S. equity markets opened slightly higher this morning on better economic news out of Europe and basically good data in the U.S. In Europe, the eurozone trade balance came in better than expected, but U.K. retail sales declined by 0.6% compared an expected rise of 0.4%. Spain’s CPI dropped 1.3% in January, just a bit less than an expected drop of 1.4%. In Asia, the Shanghai exchange remained closed and Japan’s Nikkei got bogged down as the G20 central bankers meet to talk about currency manipulation. In the U.S. the Empire State manufacturing index jumped to a reading of +10, its first positive reading since last July (more coverage here). The consumer sentiment index also came in better than expected.
U.S. markets are closed Monday in observance of the Presidents’ Day holiday.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.03% today, now at 80.482. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 679.20, with commodities prices mixed again today. WTI crude oil closed down 1.5% today, at $95.86, up about 0.2% for the week. Brent crude trades down 0.4% at $117.50 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.3% today at about $3.16 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 1.6% today at $1,609.50 an ounce, finishing the week down 3.4%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 6 points to 13,979.61 (0.04%), the NASDAQ fell more than 6 points (-0.21%) to 3,192.03, and the S&P 500 fell -0.10% or less than 2 points to 1,519.79.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $26 at Argus; Randgold Resources Ltd. (NASDAQ: GOLD) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup; Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) cut to ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank; Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) raised to ‘outperform’ with a price target of $11.50 at Credit Suisse; and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) maintained as ‘underperform’ with a price target of $15 at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) is up 3.3% at $44.34 after posting a new 52-week high of $45.87 earlier today; Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE: GG) is down 2.5% at $33.80; American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) is up 0.4% at $44.96; Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW) is up 4.1% at $17.26 (more coverage here); Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) is up 1.5% at $39.31; J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) is up 0.2% at $92.37 after posting a new 52-week high of $94.99 earlier today; and Tower International Inc. (NYSE: TOWR) is up 13.6% at $11.17.
After markets close today and before they open Tuesday morning we are scheduled to hear from America’s Car-Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: CRMT), Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX), NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), and Windstream Corp. (NASDAQ: WIN).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Xoom Corp. (NASDAQ: XOOM) is up 43.2% at $22.91. The international money transfer firm held its IPO today. More coverage here.
Trulia Inc. (NYSE: TRLA) is up 17.6% at $35.88 after posting a new 52-week high of $38.22 earlier today. The Internet real estate site reported solid earnings earlier this week and is getting a big bounce again today, likely based on Zillow Inc.’s (NASDAQ: Z) strong results last night.
Endeavour International Corp. (NYSE: END) is down 13.2% at $3.08 after posting a new 52-week low of $3.06 earlier today. The oil & gas company said yesterday it would explore “strategic alternatives.” More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Tuesday. U.S. markets are closed on Monday. We have noted the following events on Tuesday’s schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:00 a.m. – Housing market index
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month Treasury bill auctions
Have a great weekend!