Stocks opened lower this morning and trailed mostly lower throughout the day. Today’s wholesale inventory reported showed a gain of 1.6% and the initial jobless claims were substantially lower than expectations of 395,000, at 381,000. The two reports probably cancelled each other out as word hit the street that Europe is forecasting weaker growth and that today’s expected interest rate reduction was agreed with less than a unanimous vote by the ECB. The stress test results for European banks were released today, causing shares in some European banks to fall. WTI crude has fallen by more than $2 to $98.33/barrel and Brent crude is also down by about $1.65 at $107.86. Gold is down nearly -2%, at $1,710.40.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 198 points to 11,997.93 (-1.63%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 53 points (-1.99%) to 2,596.38, and the S&P 500 fell -2.11% or nearly 27 points to 1,234.35.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $24 at Argus. Other ratings actions today include Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (NYSE: DO) started as ‘sell’ with a target price of $70 at Goldman Sachs; Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) cut to ‘neutral’ at Janney; Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) restarted as ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee; Philip Morris International, Inc. (NYSE: PM) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ at Nomura; and Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) started as ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs.

Here are today’s post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN) is up 2.7% at $12.23; Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is down -1.3% at $86.33; Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE: SFD) is down -2.6% at $24.29; Layne Christensen Co. (NASDAQ: LAYN) is down -4.1% at $23.61; and Korn/Ferry International (NYSE: KFY) is down -8% at $15.77.

Other standouts from today include the following shares:

DemandTec, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMAN) is up nearly 56% at $13.15. The cloud-software company has accepted a takeover bid from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) of $13.50/share, a 57% premium over yesterday’s closing price.

Affymax, Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) is up more than 38% at $8.10. The US FDA has approved the company’s anemia drug for dialysis patients suffering from chronic kidney failure.

E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NYSE: DANG) is up nearly 24% at $5.76. The Chinese e-commerce company has announced that it will issue an e-reader later this month and split content revenue with producers, keeping 40% for itself.

Invacare Corp. (NYSE: IVC) is down more than -25% at $15.39, after posting a new 52-week low earlier today. The medical supplies maker is in danger of having the US FDA close down some of its operations because Invacare has failed to comply with quality standards.

Pinnacle Airlines Corp. (NASDAQ: PNCL) is down about -23% at $1.47, after posting a new 52-week low of $1.40 earlier today. The regional airlines has initiated a program to cut costs and raise liquidity.

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is down nearly -3.5% at $30.75. The electric car maker’s stock was downgraded by Morgan Stanley from ‘overweight’ to ‘underweight’ and the target price was slashed from $70 to $44.

Stay tuned for Friday. Here are some noteworthy events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – International trade report for October
  • 9:55 a.m. – Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment report

Paul Ausick

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