Closing Bell for Friday on Wall Street: Markets Open Lower, Wobble to Weak Close

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August 16, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning following big down day on Thursday. In the U.S., the Census Bureau’s report on July housing starts put up a positive number, while labor costs were reported higher and labor productivity also rose. The consumer sentiment index took a nosedive, killing off the positive drift higher. In Europe, the eurozone current account and trade surpluses were both up, but not as much as expected. Core CPI in the eurozone was up 1.1% year-over-year. In Asia, Hong Kong reported GDP growth of 0.8% quarter-over-quarter for the second quarter of 2013. U.S. markets were not able to generate much enthusiasm among traders today.

The U.S. dollar index is trading higher today, now up 0.11% at 81.2710. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.8% at 648.86. WTI crude oil closed up 0.1% today, at $107.46 a barrel, and closed the week up 1.4%. Brent crude trades up 0.8% at $110.42 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.4% today at about $3.37 per million BTUs. Gold for December delivery settled up 0.7% today at $1,371.00 an ounce, and closed the week up 14%, the yellow metal’s biggest one-week jump in nearly five years..

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 31 points to 15,081.47 (-0.20%), the NASDAQ fell more than 3 points (-0.09%) to 3,602.78, and the S&P 500 fell -0.33% or more than 5 points to 1,655.83.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:

  • Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus;
  • Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch;
  • Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) raised to ‘buy’ at S&P Capital IQ;
  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) raised to ‘buy’ at S&P Capital IQ; and
  • Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) raised to ‘buy’ and price target set at $27 at Goldman Sachs.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some prices move today:

  • Applied Materials Corp. (NASDAQ: AMAT) is up 2.4% at $15.69;
  • Bally Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BYI) is down 3% at $71.00;
  • Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) is up 0.8% at $13.82; and
  • Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) is down 4.9% at $56.46.

There are no earnings reports of note scheduled before markets open on Monday morning.

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

MannKind Corp. (NASDAQ: MNKD) is down 12.9% at $5.79. The biopharmaceutical maker jumped on positive data a couple of days ago, but investors have shied away since then.

Pain Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: PTIE) is up 42.8% at $3.27. The biopharmaceutical firm is getting a boost from an announcement by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) that a new clinical trial is in the works for an oxycodone substitute licensed to Pain Therapeutics and developed by Durect Corp. (NASDAQ: DRRX), which itself is up 19% at $1.25today.

PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) is up 2.6% at $16.32. The homebuilder got a boost today from the reported rise in housing starts.

Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 11:00 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions

Have a great weekend!

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