U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning following a downturn in Europe and mixed markets in Asia. Data releases were limited everywhere today as well. In Asia, a weaker yen boosted the Nikkei, but Japanese consumer confidence barely ticked up. In Europe, the U.K.’s unemployment rate rose to 7.9%, but speculation that both French and German sovereign debt would be downgraded weighed on European exchanges. In the U.S., mortgage applications rose and mortgage interest rates fell slightly (more coverage here). Energy stocks, financials, and technology stocks were the day’s biggest drags.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 1.06% today, now at 82.613. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.2% at 609.91. WTI crude oil closed down 2.3% today, at $86.68 a barrel after small drop in the EIA’s inventory report (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 2.1% at $100.39 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.2% today at about $4.19 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.3% today at $1,382.70 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 139 points to 14,618.13 (-0.94%), the NASDAQ fell about 60 points (-1.84%) to 3,204.67, and the S&P 500 fell -1.43% or nearly 23 points to 1,552.00.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) reiterated as ‘sell’ at Argus; Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) started as ‘overweight’ with a price target of $85 at Barclays; Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE: QIHU) started as ‘overweight’ with a price target of $38 at Barclays; Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) cut to ‘neutral’ at Macquarie; and Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) reiterated as ‘outperform’ and price target raised to $59 at Oppenheimer.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) is up XX% at $XX (more railroad coverage here); Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is up XX% at $XX (more coverage here) United Rentals Inc. (NYSE: URI) is up XX% at $XX; Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is up XX% at $XX (more coverage here); Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is up XX% at $XX (more coverage here); and Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) is up XX% at $XX (more coverage here).
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK), eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY), Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI), AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE), Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU), PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP), Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. (NYSE: MHR) is down XX% at $XX after posting a new 52-week low of $2.43 earlier today. The struggling oil & gas producer fired its auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, last night after the auditors asked for additional information that might have a material impact on the company’s financial statements.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is up XX% at $XX. The mobile phone maker reports earnings tomorrow morning, and the struggles at Apple are assumed to be good news for Nokia.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
- 10:00 a.m. – Leading indicators
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 1:00 p.m. – 5-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply