U.S. equity markets opened flat to lower this morning following yesterday’s record-setting session. Economic data was minimal today. In Asia, machinery orders rose more than expected in Japan, but the Shanghai market closed lower on bird flu worries. In Europe, the eurozone is expected to approve the Cypriot bailout plan tomorrow. Consumer price indexes in France and Germany came in pretty much as expected. In the U.S., the report on jobless benefit claims came in better than expected (more coverage here). U.S. March retail sales for many chain stores were reported today, and the results were perhaps a little better than expected (more coverage here). The Nasdaq trailed today following a report from IDC on lower PC sales in the first quarter of 2013.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.33% today, now at 82.260. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.2% at 636.03. WTI crude oil closed down 1.2% today, at $93.51 a barrel, following a cut to its demand estimate by the IEA (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 1.6% at $104.26 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.5% today at about $4.14 per million BTUs, following a report today on natural gas inventories (more coverage here). Gold settled up 0.4% today at $1,564.90 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 62 points to 14,864.75 (0.42%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 3 points (0.09%) to 3,300.16, and the S&P 500 rose 0.35% or nearly 6 points to 1,593.36.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs and to ‘neutral’ at Nomura; Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) raised to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) maintained as ‘buy’ with a $90 price target at Argus; Kraft Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT) started as ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; and Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA) reiterated as ‘outperform’ and price target raised to $64 at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) is up 2.1% at $22.93; Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) is down 1.9% at $64.23 (more coverage here); NovaGold Resources Inc. (NYSEMKT: NG) is up 2.3% at $3.03 after posting a new 52-week low of $3.01 earlier today; Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR) is down 0.2% at $23.29; and SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) is down 18.2% at $1.17.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Crumbs Bake Shop Inc. (NASDAQ: CRMB).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAD) is up 67.4% at $13.34 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.92 earlier today. The clinical stage biopharmaceutical company said today that it will file for accelerated approval of an anti-psychosis drug for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Stay tuned for Friday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Producer price index
- 8:30 a.m. – Retail sales
- 9:55 a.m. – Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index
- 10:00 a.m. – Business inventories