Stocks opened a bit lower this morning, but almost immediately turned around without being able to break through the opening numbers. Revised third-quarter US GDP numbers were worse than expected, falling to a revised growth rate of 2%, compared with estimates that the growth rate would remain flat at 2.5%. Commodities, gold, and oil all rose in the morning, but by afternoon sentiment had shifted toward the negative. Gold is down slightly to $1,675.40, and crude oil is up slightly to $97.71/barrel. Even references to more easing from the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee when it released the minutes of its last meeting didn’t move markets much one way or the other.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 53 points to 11,493.88 (-0.46%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 2 points (-0.07%) to 2,521.28, and the S&P 500 fell about -0.41% or nearly 5 points to 1,188.05.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) started as ‘hold’ at ThinkEquity. Other ratings actions included Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) raised to ‘outperform’ at BMO and raised to buy at Citigroup; Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) re-initiated as ‘sell’ with a $60 price target at Canaccord Genuity; Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) cut to ‘market perform’ at BMO; Wynn Resorts Ltd. (NASDAQ: WYNN) cut to ‘neutral’ at Janney Capital; and Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) maintained as ‘buy’ with $33 target price at Canaccord Genuity.

Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: LDK Solar Co. Inc. (NYSE: LDK) is up nearly 7.5%, at $3.04; Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) is down about -5.6%, at $31.74; Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL) is a fraction at $28.82; Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP) is up more than 17%, at $2.62; and Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: BRCD) is up more than 13%, at $5.08.

Be sure to check our story on the dismal showing of the Chinese solar stocks and then try to figure out why LDK and STP shares are up today. Investors have got to believe the stocks have hit bottom. Perhaps, but LDK is pretty shaky, regardless of investors’ hopes.

Several other standouts from today are as follows…

Frontline Ltd. (NYSE: FRO) is down nearly -41%, at $3.07, after posting a new 52-week low of $2.97 earlier today. The company reported awful earnings and said that it would either need to restructure or go out of business.

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is down nearly -15%, at $1.59, a penny more than a new 52-week low set earlier today. The company is dogged by liquidity and cash flow concerns.

Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is down nearly -13.5%, at $20.40, after posting a new post-IPO low of $20.03 earlier today. Apparently investors have figured out that there are other companies competing hard in the same space and that there are few barriers to keep more competitors out.

Focus Media Holding Ltd. (NASDAQ: FMCN) is up more than 15%, at $17.80. The company was torched yesterday by allegations of mis-statements related its reporting. The CEO disputed yesterday’s allegations in a conference call today, and reiterated the company’s intention to continue buying back shares.

Royale Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: ROYL) is up nearly 12%, at $3.27. The company announced a new gas well flowing at 3 million cubic feet/day and said that it would begin selling the gas within 2 weeks.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. Here’s a list of other noteworthy events scheduled for tomorrow(all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment benefits claims
  • 9:55 a.m. – Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas status report (moved up from Thursday)
  • 11:00 a.m – EIA weekly petroleum status report

Paul Ausick