U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning following news out of China that government is about to tighten restrictions on real estate transactions. The news pushed the Shanghai exchange down nearly 4% and weighed on markets all across Asia (more coverage here). In Europe, a consumer sentiment index came in much lower than expected and the U.K.’s construction PMI was lower than expected. There was no data release of note in the U.S. today, but the news out of China pushed down energy and basic materials stocks. Steelmakers took the brunt of the punishment. House Republicans have proposed a budget plan this afternoon that would keep the federal government running until the end of the fiscal year in September.
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.9% today, now at 82.236. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.9% at 642.65, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.6% today, at $90.12 a barrel, the lowest close yet this year. Brent crude trades down 0.3% at $110.05 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.2% today at about $3.53 per million BTUs. Gold settled fractionally higher today at $1,572.40 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 38 points to 14,127.63 (0.27%), the NASDAQ rose more than 12 points (0.39%) to 3,182.03, and the S&P 500 rose 0.46% or about 7 points to 1,525.23.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) raised to ‘overweight’ at Barclays; NuStar Energy LP. (NYSE: NS) cut to ‘underperform’ at Credit Suisse; Dean Foods Inc. (NYSE: DF) raised to ‘buy’ at KeyBanc; Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) started as ‘underperform’ at Sterne Agee; and Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in several price moves today, including these: Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA) is down 2.3% at $8.15; Boyd Gaming Corp. (NYSE: BYD) is up 9.3% at $7.06 (more coverage here); Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) is down 0.3% at $51.97; and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) is down 0.4% at $XX (more solar coverage here).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Ferro Corp. (NYSE: FOE) is up 30.8% at $6.80 after posting a new 52-week high of $6.95 earlier today. The specialty chemicals firm has received an unsolicited buyout offer from A. Schulman Inc. (NASDAQ: SHLM). More coverage here.
Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ: SCSS) is down 16% at $17.23 after posting a new 52-week low of $16.62 earlier today. The mattress maker released a poor outlook for quarterly earnings today.
Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) is up 7.1% at $68.84. The 3D printer maker reported solid results for its fourth quarter this morning. More coverage on today’s spiky stocks here and our look at the quarterly results here.
Stay tuned for Tuesday. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index
- 11:30 a.m. – 4- and 52-week bill auctions