Pre-market signals were weak today, and once trading opened, the signals got stronger. The DJIA has traded down more than -200 points for most of the day, with financial and energy stocks the hardest hit. Rates on Italian bonds topped 7% this morning, sending traders running away from equities and commodities alike. The only gainer for the day appears to be the dollar, which is stronger against the euro and the yen in the mid-afternoon. Crude prices fell below $95/barrel before recovering to near $98/barrel, and gold is down at $1,789.30. About an hour before closing, nearly 99% of the S&P 500 stocks were down on the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than -389 points to 11,780.94 (-3.2%), the NASDAQ fell nearly -106 points (-3.88%) to 2,621.65, and the S&P 500 fell -3.67% or nearly -47 points to 1,229.10.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (NYSE: DWA) cut to ‘sell’ at Janney; H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) raised to ‘outperform’ at Oppenheimer; Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN) cut to ‘hold’ at S&P Capital IQ; Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) raised to ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse; Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; and Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) cut to ‘neutral’ at BofA/ML.
Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is up down about -10%, at $22.48; A123 Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: AONE) is down less than -1%, at $3.09; IntraLinks Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: IL) is down more than -37%, at $5.50, after posting a new 52-week low of $5.44 earlier today; Blue Nile Inc. (NASDAQ: NILE) is down nearly -16%, at $33.24; Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: HNR) is down more than -19%, at $8.80; and Neenah Paper, Inc. (NYSE: NP) is up more than 12%, at $18.84.
Several other standouts from today are as follows…
Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER) is down more than -32%, to $0.41. The company has said that it will suspend manufacturing and cut 500 jobs. Excess inventory of solar panels gets the blame.
U.S. Auto Parts Network, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRTS) is down more than -22%, at $3.94, after posting a new 52-week low of $3.66 earlier in the day. The company received a waiver from one of its lenders for failing to meet coverage ratio requirements.
O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. (NASDAQ: ORLY) is down about -1.1%, at $76.44, after posting a new 52-week high of $77.95 earlier today. We noted the company’s performance earlier today in an article on auto sector implied gains.
American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC)) is up nearly 10%, to $4.49. The company reported earnings today, and its growing order backlog indicates a possible turnaround following the loss of its biggest customer earlier this year.
Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. (NYSE: NOR) is down more than -16%, at $8.51. The company will pay a special dividend of $1/share to shareholders of record as of yesterday’s close. That pushed the shares down a buck this morning, and the rest is due to the overall market decline today.
Citigroup (NYSE: C) is down more than -8%, at $28.78. The bank claimed the largest decline among the big US banks today.
Beazer Homes USA Inc. (NYSE: BZH) is down nearly -8%, at $2.17. There was no special news from Beazer today, but the threatened burst of new foreclosures soon to hit the housing market have had a nasty effect on this lower-priced builder.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank president Dennis Lockhart is giving a speech in the morning and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a town hall meeting with soldiers and their families at Fort Bliss, Texas, at 11:45 a.m. We have noted the following events (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – International trade balance report
- 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment benefits claims
- 8:30 a.m. – Monthly import/export price report
- 9:45 a.m. – Bloomberg consumer comfort index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA natural gas inventory report
- 2:00 p.m. – Monthly US Treasury budget report
- 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply report