U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning but all three major indexes managed to pull off small gain by the end of the trading session. In Asia, Japan’s 10-year bond futures are up sharply and the USDJPY poked through 99 yen to the dollar. The Nikkei closed up 2.8%, while Shanghai was hit with concerns about the impact of the latest outbreak of bird flu in China (more coverage here). In Europe, German industrial production rose more than expected, but a measure of consumer confidence sank lower than the consensus estimate. In the U.S., there was no economic data released today.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.28% today, now at 82.7286. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.8% at 628.26, as commodities markets continues to struggle (more coverage here). WTI crude oil closed up 0.7% today, at $93.36 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.6% at $104.68 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.9% today at about $4.09 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.2% today at $1,572.10 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 48 points to 14,613.48 (0.33%), the NASDAQ rose more than 18 points (0.57%) to 3,222.25, and the S&P 500 rose 0.63% or nearly 10 points to 1,563.07.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan; Vale SA (NYSE: VALE) raised to ‘buy’ at Canaccord Genuity; L-3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LLL) cut to ‘underweight’ at J.P. Morgan; Rubicon Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RBCN) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $12 at Argus; and Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse.
No earnings of note were released before markets opened today.
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Weatherford International Ltd. (NYSE: WFT)) is up 3.4% at $12.45. The oil field services firm’s shares are reacting to this morning’s announcement of the $3.3 billion acquisition of Lufkin Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: LUFK) by General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) (more coverage here).
MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE: MTG) is up 8.8% at $5.38. The mortgage loan insurer was among four companies that settled allegations of illegal kickback payments today with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
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):
- 7:30 a.m. – National Federation of Independent Business optimism index
- 10:00 a.m. – Wholesale trade
- 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction
- 1:00 p.m. – 3-year note auction