July 17, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning and managed to hold onto a decent gain following a day of ups and downs as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress. While that was the main driver for traders today, there were some other data points worth noting. In Europe, the Bank of England said it would maintain both its asset purchases and its key interest rate. In Asia, China reported foreign direct investment rose by 4.9%, which may not be what the country needs to stimulate GDP growth. In the U.S., mortgage applications slid again and new housing starts also fell. The Fed released its Beige Book in the afternoon, but by then everyone was satiated with Fed news.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.25% today, now at 82.7050. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.3% at 645.99. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5% today, at $106.48 a barrel after the EIA report on inventories. Brent crude trades up 0.3% at $109.40 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.4% today at about $3.63 per million BTUs. Gold for August delivery settled down 1% today at $1,277.50 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 18 points to 15,469.67 (0.12%), the NASDAQ rose more than 11 points (0.32%) to 3,610.00, and the S&P 500 rose 0.28% or nearly 5 points to1,680.89.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank;
- McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) cut to ‘neutral’ at Janney Capital;
- Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) raised to ‘market perform’ at FBR Capital Markets;
- Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN) started as ‘outperform’ at William Blair; and
- Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ: PAAS) cut to ‘hold’ at Canaccord Genuity.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some prices move today:
- CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) is up 1.8% at $25.08;
- Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) is up 0.2% at $35.78 on mixed quarterly results;
- Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is up 2.7% at $14.30 after posting a new 52-week high of $14.44 earlier today following an earnings report that investors liked; and
- Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) is down 0.1% at $27.70.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings results from American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), Ebay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY), Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI), SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK), AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE), Phillip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM), UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is up 10.9% at $120.91. The electric car maker is recovering from yesterday’s dim view posted by a Goldman Sachs analyst.
ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ: ZAGG) is down 16.6% at $4.89. The maker of accessories for mobile devices warned on earnings this morning.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is testifying before the Senate Banking Committee. 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 natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 10-year TIPS auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply