Strong reports from the Chicago purchasing managers index and pending home sales juiced the equity markets this morning, and the gains held up throughout the day. Part of the bounce is due to a lowering of China’s capital reserves requirements on its banks and to a weaker dollar. Crude oil prices rose nearly 2% this morning, but the EIA report of a large inventory increase sent prices back down by mid-morning. WTI crude is trading at $100.27/barrel, after posting a high this morning of $101.75/barrel. Gold is up sharply, at $1,745.30, a rise of nearly 2%. The three major indexes have all been trading more than 3% higher for virtually the whole day.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 489 points to 12,044.55 (4.23%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 105 points (4.17%) to 2,620.34, and the S&P 500 rose 4.33% or nearly 52 points to 1,246.94.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a $46 price target at Argus. Other ratings actions included Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a $94 price target at Canaccord Genuity; Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) cut to ‘underperform’ at Wedbush; Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) reiterated as ‘hold’ at Argus; Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; and Calpine Corp. (NYSE: CPN) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies. See our story on Transocean’s stock offering and proposed debt offering.

Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) is up 3.3%, at $13.87; The Fresh Market, Inc. (NASDAQ: TFM) is up 5.7%, at $38.73; Jos. A. Banks Clothiers, Inc. (NASDAQ: JOSB) is down -6%, at $48.09; and SeaDrill Ltd. (NYSE: SDRL) is up 6.3%, at $34.82. After markets close today, Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE: ARO) and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (NYSE: KKD) will report earnings.

Several other standouts from today are as follows…

Zoltec Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZOLT) is up 41.5%, at $8.11. The advanced materials maker reported better-than-expected earnings after markets closed yesterday.

Advanced Analogics Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AATI) is up 32.5%, at $5.75. The power management chip maker is being acquired by Skyworks Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: SWKS) for $258.6 million, or about $6.05/share.

Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) is up 18.7%, at $10.30.  This coal miner, like virtually all its competitors, is down about -40% for the past 12 months. There’s no news to justify today’s price jump, but the company’s thermal coal does sell well in cold weather.

Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (AMEX: AVL) is up 20.3%, at $3.26. The rare earths miner made this big move on no news, but competitor Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) did a deal with two Japanese companies to manufacture very powerful magnets in Japan for use in wind turbines and other high-tech products.

JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) is up 16.6%, at $1.80. The solar PV maker is among several Chinese solar companies moving up today, no doubt as these are considered the most likely to survive a shakeout in the solar manufacturing sector.

Shutterfly, Inc. (NASDAQ: SFLY) is down -12%, at $27.02, after posting a new 52-week low of $26.93 earlier today. The social media company is facing intense competition for its on-line photo products.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – New unemployment claims
  • 9:45 a.m. – Bloomberg consumer comfort index
  • 10:00 a.m – Industrial Supply Management manufacturing index
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA natural gas weekly report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet
  • 4:30 p.m. – Money supply report

Paul Ausick

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