24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (AWK, C, JPM, CAT, DE, VLO, PNX, NOR, HGG, CECO, END, VG, AMRS, DMND, PG, SINO, OXGN, RTK, RNF)

Stocks opened higher this morning and the gains held up pretty well all day. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee report contained no big surprises, with interest rates continuing to be held between 0%-0.25%. The dollar is a bit weaker, leading to a small rise in oil and commodity stocks. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s prepared remarks were issued prior to his press conference, and the Fed has lowered its estimate of US economic growth for the year from 2.7%-2.9% to 1.6%-1.7%. The growth forecast for 2012 has also been trimmed, from 3.3%-3.7% to 2.5%-2.9%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly more than 177 points to 11,835.74 (1.52%), the NASDAQ rose more than 33 points (1.27%) to 2,639.98, and the S&P 500 rose 1.61% or more than 19 points to 1,237.89.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including American Water Works (NYSE: AWK) added to Zack’s Strong Buy List. Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) and JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) cut to ‘hold’ at S&P Capital IQ; Caterpillar Corp. (NYSE: CAT) started at ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) started at ‘underweight’ at Morgan Stanley; and Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) reiterated ‘buy’ at Argus with a price target of $35.

Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Phoenix Companies Inc. (NYSE: PNX) up more than 27%, at $1.73; Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. (NYSE: NOR) is up more than 21%, at $10.44; hhgregg, Inc. (NYSE: HGG) up more than 16%, at $14.09; Career Education Corp. (NASDAQ: CECO) is down nearly -467%, at $8.38, a new 52-week low; Endeavor International Corp. (NYSE: END) is down nearly -14%, at $7.66; and Vonage Holding Corp. (NYSE: VG) is down about -15%, at $2.65.

Several other standouts from today are as follows…

Career Education Corp., in addition to posting an awful quarterly report, also got hit by the resignation of the company’s CEO. Shares are down more than -47%, at $8.38, to give the shares a new range of $8.68-$27.60.

Amyris Corp. (NASDAQ: AMRS) is down more than -20%, at $15.41, having posted a new 52-week low earlier to give the stock a new range of $15.21-$33.99. The company’s earnings report revealed an EPS loss of -$0.97, much worse than expected. Shares were downgraded by Robert Baird from ‘outperform’ to ‘neutral’.

Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is down more than -17%, at $53.01, in a 52-week range of $43.14-$96.13. The company’s board is reviewing how walnut growers are being paid and will delay the annual report into next year. The company’s deal to by Pringles snack foods from Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) could be in jeopardy because the company planned to use stock to make the acquisition.

Sino-Global America Shipping, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SINO) is up more than 81%, at $3.05, in a 52-week range of $1.20-$9.16. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with a South African firm to act as Sino’s agent in that country. In shipping these days, any positive signal is a rare treat.

Oxigene, Inc. (NASDAQ: OXGN) is up nearly 12%, at $1.69, in a 52-week range of $0.82-$6.38. The company has set its third-quarter earnings release for next week, and investors are expecting good news on the company’s drug development efforts.

Rentech, Inc. (AMEX: RTK) is up about 21%, at $1.95, a new 52-week high, and a new 52-week trading range of $0.72-$1.95. The company continues to get a boost from the IPO of its spin-off of Rentech Nitrogen Partners, L.P. (NYSE: RNF).

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment claims
  • 10:00 a.m. – Factory orders
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA Natural gas report
  • 4: 30 p.m. – Federal Reserve Balance Sheet

Paul Ausick

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