U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning after yesterday’s bloodbath. There was no economic data of note released today in either Asia or the U.S. In Europe, the eurozone’s current account surplus was larger than expected and the U.K. public borrowing was lower than expected. The bigger news was the threat that Greece’s governing coalition might unravel and the country could implode again. In Asia, China’s overnight interbank lending rate came down from Thursday’s highs and there were unconfirmed reports that the People’s Bank of China injected more cash into the system, something the central bank has refused to do during the past week or so.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.47% today, now at 82.2970. The GSCI commodity index is down 3.1% at 616.46. WTI crude oil closed down 1.5% today, at $93.69 a barrel, down nearly $4.40 a barrel for the week. Brent crude trades down 1.2% at $100.95 a barrel. Natural gas is down 2.4% today at about $3.78 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.5% today at $1,292.10, but closed the week down nearly $100 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 43 points to 14,801.70 (0.29%), the NASDAQ fell more than 7 points (-0.22%) to 3,357.25, and the S&P 500 rose 0.27% or more than 4 points to 1,592.50.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: IDIX) cut to ‘underperform’ at Baird and JMP Securities, ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank, and ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan;
- Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: FRX) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs;
- Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) raised to ‘buy’ at UBS;
- The Wendy’s Co. (NASDAQ: WEN) started as ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; and
- Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE: CAH) raised to ‘outperform’ at William Blair.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:
- Carmax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) is down 0.5% at $44.34 on solid earnings and
- Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) is down 2.1% at $50.11 after earnings this morning.
No notable earnings are scheduled for release before markets open Monday morning. Later in the week we should get reports from Greenbrier Companies Inc. (NYSE: GBX), Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL), Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS), Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC), Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG), Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON), ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG), Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), and BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) is down 9.3% at $30.14. The enterprise software giant doubled its dividend after reporting a so-so quarter.
Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is up 6% at $7.99. The daily deals site got an upgrade earlier this week that had been tamped down by all the Fed action and reaction.
Ebix Inc. (NASDAQ: EBIX) is down 11.6% at $9.68 after posting a new 52-week low of $8.21 earlier today. The insurance business e-commerce software provider has seen shares tank since Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) withdrew a buyout offer of $780 million following the announcement of a federal investigation into the company’s accounting and reporting practices..
Stay tuned for Monday. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
- 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!