June 28, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning after a few days of stronger openings, mainly because investors were waiting for some economic data. They didn’t have to wait long as the Chicago PMI came in lower than expected and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose slightly. In Europe, French consumer confidence tumbled and German retail sales rose sharply. In Asia, a Chinese official declared that the country’s economy is now under control and the Shanghai exchange responded with its first positive closing in several days.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.31% today, now at 83.1600. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.8% at 615.88. WTI crude oil closed down 0.5% today, at $96.56 a barrel, closing the month up 4.7% and the quarter down about 1%. Brent crude trades up 1.2% at $102.82 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.2% today at about $3.58 per million BTUs. Gold for August delivery settled up 1% today at $1,223.70, but gold futures posted their worst quarter ever.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 115 points to 14,909.83 (-0.76%), the NASDAQ rose more than 1 point (0.04%) to 3,403.25, and the S&P 500 fell -0.43% or about 7 points to 1,606.26.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Accenture plc (NYSE: ACN) cut to sell with a price target of $70 at SocGen;
- Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) raised to ‘outperform’ at Oppenheimer;
- GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) started as ‘buy’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch;
- Vodafone Group plc (NASDAQ: VOD) raised to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank; and
- Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:
- Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) is up 2.6% at $63.96 and
- Finish Line Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL) is up 4.1% at $22.07.
No earnings releases of note are scheduled before markets open Monday morning.
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) is up 6.5% at $15.82 after posting a new 52-week low of $14.67 earlier today. The gold miner is getting a bounce from investors who apparently believe that gold prices have reached a bottom. We covered this story a couple of days ago.
Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:58 a.m. – PMI manufacturing index
- 10:00 a.m. – ISM manufacturing index
- 10:00 a.m. – Construction spending
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6- month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!