Equity markets opened slightly lower this morning, following yesterday’s big share price increases. For most of the day stocks traded slightly lower, although they have moved to a very slight gain in the final hour of trading. China’s purchasing managers index was weaker than expected, which is probably the reason for the slow start this morning, and then new US unemployment claims were higher than expected adding more pressure on prices. The dollar has traded weaker relative to the euro, but strengthened against the yen. Crude oil is trading down marginally at $100.18/barrel and gold is also down slightly at $1,743.870/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 25 points to 12,020.48 (-0.21%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 6 points (0.22%) to 2,626.20, and the S&P 500 fell -0.19% or more than 2 points to 1,244.58.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup. Other ratings action included IAMGOLD Corp. (NYSE: IAG) started as ‘outperform’ with a $25 price target at Credit Suisse; Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) raised from ‘neutral’ to ‘buy’ at Citigroup; Seagate Technology PLC (NYSE: STX) raised to ‘buy’ at Argus; Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ONXX) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch; and Carrizo Oil & Gas (NASDAQ: CRZO) reiterated ‘buy’ with a new price target of $49 at Canaccord Genuity.

Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Gildan Activewear Inc. (NYSE: GIL) is down -30.8% at $16.53, after setting a new 52-week low of $16.52; Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS) is down -16.9% at $14.50; Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) is down -4.8% at $47.34; Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISLE) is down -8.5% at $4.51; The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) is up 1% at $23.41; and The Talbot’s Inc. (NYSE: TLB) is down -17.1% at $1.65, after posting a new 52-week low of $1.63. We have more details on Lululemon’s earnings and on the November sales reports from a number of retailers, including Talbot’s.

Several other standouts from today are as follows…

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) is up 26.7% at $1.33. The ethanol maker has regained compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements and has increased ownership of its four ethanol production plants to 27%.

Magma Design Automation Inc. (NASDAQ: LAVA) is up more than 25% at $7.16. The design automation firm has agreed to be acquired by Synopsys Inc. (NASDAQ: SNPS) for $7.35/share.

Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is up more than 17% at $2.09. The wireless broadband provider received a $1.6 billion investment from its majority owner Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) that will enable Clearwire to meet its $237 million debt payment. We have more details here.

Scorpio Tankers Inc. (NYSE: STNG) are down more than -20% at $5.31. The Monaco-based petroleum shipping company priced a secondary offering this morning at $5.50/share.

Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ: HOVNP) is down more than -14% at $1.31. The homebuilder has been batted around for nearly a year now, and even improving news on construction spending can’t stop the slide.

Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted speeches due from Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren. Here’s another noteworthy event scheduled for tomorrow (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm payroll report

Paul Ausick

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