Markets opened higher this morning on renewed hope for a deal on Europe’s debt debacle. At a meeting of EU leaders, the group approved a 9% capital buffer to go into effect by June 2012. That’s a start, but hardly the end of the long-running disagreement on how the continent should deal with its banking problems. Stocks got a boost from solid earnings from Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW). Oil prices have dropped more than $2.50/barrel following the weekly EIA report that US crude inventories increased by 4.7 million barrels. New home sales were also up for the first time in five months, following price cuts averaging 3.1%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly more than 162 points to 11,869.04 (1.39%), the NASDAQ rose more than 12 points (0.46%) to 2.650.67, and the S&P 500 rose 1.05% or nearly 13 points to 1,241.97.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including target price and estimate cuts on (NASDAQ: AMZN) at BofA/ML, but the firm maintained its ‘Buy’ rating on the stock. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) was maintained at ‘buy’ with a raised target price of $70 at Argus; First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) was cut to ‘hold’ at both Kaufman and Jefferies, and cut to ‘sell’ at S&P Capital IQ; 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) was lowered to ‘market perform’ at William Blair; and The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) was cut to ‘neutral’ by Citigroup.

Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Boeing is up more than 5% at $66.91; Corning is up 3.6% at $14.22; American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) is up 0.67%, at $38.91; ConocoPhillips Corp. (NYSE: COP) is up nearly 2%, at $72.03; Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) is up 1%, at $42.75; and Complete Production Services, Inc. (NYSE: CPX) is up slightly, at $31.06, after trading lower for most of the day.

Several other standouts from today are as follows…

Cheniere Energy, Inc. (AMEX: LNG) is up about 70%, to $10.41. The company signed a 20-year agreement with BG Group plc to sell the British company 3.5 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas annually. The deal is worth about $8 billion, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2015.

First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFCH) is up more than 24%, at $6.76. The company has sold $198 million of some performing loans and other classified assets.

Rentech, Inc. (AMEX: RTK) is up more than 25%, to $1.51. The company successfully launched an IPO today of Rentech Nitrogen Partners, L.P. (NYSE: RNF) at an offering price of $15-$19/share. RTK owns about 61% of RNF and all of the general partner interests in the new company.

Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) is down about -21%, at $10.05, after posting anew 52-week low of $9.68 earlier in the day. The company reported weak earnings today, and its lupus drug failed to meet already low sales expectations.

DeVry Inc. (NYSE: DV) is down-17%, at $38.36. The company’s earnings failed to meet analysts’ estimates and enrollment also declined in its undergraduate degree programs.

Radioshack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) is down nearly -12%, at $11.80. The company missed earnings expectations as it transitions from being a T-Mobile reseller to a Verizon Wireless reseller.

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

8:30 a.m. – Third quarter GDP report
8:30 a.m. – Unemployment claims
10:00 a.m. – Pending home sales from National Association of Realtors
10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas report
1:00 p.m. – Seven-year US Treasury note auction
4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet released

Paul Ausick

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