U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning and were never able to shake off the doldrums as stocks traded below the break-even line all day. There was little data out in either Asia or Europe, and data released in the U.S. today was decidedly mixed. The U.S. consumer price index was higher than expected, but core data was inline (more coverage here). The Empire State manufacturing index beat expectations (more coverage here), and results of the Federal Reserve’s stress tests on big banks weighed on financial stocks today as well (more coverage here). U.S. industrial production rose more than expected (more coverage here), but consumer sentiment tanked (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.42% today, now at 82.262. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.5% at 650.23, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5% today, at $93.45 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 1% at $110.03 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.6% today at about $3.87 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.1% today at $1,590.70 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 25 points to 14,514.11 (-0.17%), the NASDAQ fell about 10 points (-0.30%) to 3,249.07, and the S&P 500 fell -0.16% or more than 2 points to 1,560.71.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $42 at Goldman Sachs; Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NASDAQ: NDAQ) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; Delta Air Lines Co. (NYSE: DAL) cut to ‘market perform’ at Raymond James; Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley; and Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS-A) cut to ‘underweight’ at JPMorgan Chase.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) is down 5.5% at $13.71; Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) is up 2.3% at $6.13 (more coverage here); Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) is up 5.2% at $25.49; and Brown Shoe Co. Inc. (NYSE: BWS) is down 4.8% at $17.52.
Before markets open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from Syntroleum Corp. (NASDAQ: SYNM), Celsion Corp. (NASDAQ: CLSN), Hanwha Solarone Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: HSOL), Hastings Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ: HAST), and Kior Inc. (NASDAQ: KIOR).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is up 4.4% at $12.64 after posting a new 52-week high of $12.65 earlier. The big bank’s capital plan passed the Fed stress test and includes some big buyback plans. More coverage here.
Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) is down 3.1% at $9.39. The chipmaker reports earnings next week and expectations are high, probably leading some short sellers to dump their positions today.
America Movil S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE: AMX) is down 4% at $18.59 after posting a new 52-week low of $18.49 earlier today. The telecommunications company has been through a spate of selling in the past week following an announcement that Mexico is seeking to increase competition in the sector and encourage foreign investment.
Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
10:00 a.m. – National Association of Home Builders housing market index
11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!