U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning despite low flash PMI readings from the eurozone. Germany’s manufacturing PMI reading was especially notable, falling to 47.9 from 49, and the country’s services PMI fell as well (more coverage here). In Asia, China’s flash manufacturing PMI fell from 51.60 last month to 50.50, which was worse than expected (more coverage here). In the U.S., the flash PMI reading fell from 54.6 to 52, which is still positive, but barely (more coverage here). U.S. house prices rose in February (more coverage here) and new home sales were also up after a drop in January (more coverage here). An afternoon “flash crash” followed a false report of an explosion at the White House caused by a hacker attack on the AP Twitter feed.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.43% today, now at 83.032. The GSCI commodity index is flat at 609.10. WTI crude oil closed flat today, at $89.18 a barrel on the June futures contract. Brent crude trades down 0.1% at $100.26 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.8% today at about $4.23 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.9% today at $1,408.80 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 152 points to 14,719.53 (1.05%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 36 points (1.11%) to 3,269.33, and the S&P 500 rose 1.04% or more than 16 points to 1,578.78.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Bankrate Inc. (NYSE: RATE) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch; Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) raised to ‘overweight’ with a price target of $100 at J.P. Morgan; Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $25 at SunTrust Robinson Humphreys; and General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $25 at Argus.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is up 24.9% at $217.81 after posting a new 52-week high of $219.38 earlier today (more coverage here); Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is down 1.5% at $53.22; Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE: SWC) is up 1.2% at $10.99; Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) is up 2.5% at $35.67 after posting a new 52-week high of $36.23 earlier today (more coverage here); AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) is up 0.5% at $2.94; Coach Inc. (NYSE: COH) is up 10.5% at $55.88; Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is down 5.2% at $19.94; Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) is up 1.5% at $97.24 after posting a new 52-week high of $99.49 earlier today (more coverage here); and RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) is up 2.1% at $3.21 (more coverage here).
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM), Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX), Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG), and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is up 5.2% at $40.60. The insurer won a lawsuit dismissal in California today.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 1:00 p.m. – 5-year note auction