Equity markets opened higher this morning as an agreement on dealing with the Eurozone’s debt crisis boosted markets. Shares climbed during the day, recovering some of the losses in yesterday’s bear market. The consumer sentiment index rose to 67.7, higher than expected, giving the markets another shot in the arm. WTI crude oil is up nearly 1.5%, to $99.48/barrel and gold is up slightly to $1,710.60 shortly before the market closes today. For the week, equity markets are on track to post a small gain, but nothing like last week’s 7% jump.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 186 points to 12,184.11 (1.55%), the NASDAQ rose more than 50 points (1.94%) to 2,646.85, and the S&P 500 rose 1.68% or more than 20 points to 1,255.14.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) started as ‘equal-weight’ at Evercore Partners. Other ratings actions today include Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) started as ‘underperform’ at Imperial Capital; Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) started as ‘buy’ with a target price of $2.20 at Citigroup; Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) started as ‘market perform’ at BMO Capital; and Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) started as ‘hold’ at ThinkEquity.

Here are today’s post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Ferrellgas Partners L.P. (NYSE: FGP) is down -2.7% at $20.77; Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN) is up about 1% at $23.11; Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPTT) is up 0.63% at $3.20; and KMG Chemicals Inc. (NASDAQ: KMGB) is up 3.4% at $15.67.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is up more than 47% at $39.06. The snack food maker got a huge boost today on word from a broker that the accounting issues that have delayed Diamond’s acquisition of Pringles from Proctor & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) will be resolved soon and the acquisition will proceed quickly.

Blue Coat Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BCSI) is up more than 44% at $25.18. The network technology company is being taken private at $25.81/share in an all-cash offer that values the company at $1.3 billion.

Flow International Corp. (NASDAQ: FLOW) is up more than 44% at $3.50. The industrial products company reported better-than-expected earnings and revenues after markets closed last night. The stock also got an upgrade from ‘market perform’ to ‘outperform’ from Northland.

Pharmacyclics Inc. (NASDAQ: PCYC) is down more than -15% at $12.34. The cancer and immune system drug maker was downgraded to ‘sector perform’ at RBC Capital on lowered expectations that the company may be acquired in 2012.

Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTIC) is down more than -13%, at $1.19. The cancer treatment maker announced a $20 million sale of preferred stock and warrants that could boost the number of shares of common stock outstanding by 17.4 million.

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is up more than 3.5% at $16.90. The conglomerate raised its quarterly dividend from $0.15/share to $0.17/share, the fourth increase since September 2010.

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

  • 11:30 a.m. – Short-term Treasury note auctions
  • 1:00 p.m. – Three-year Treasury note auction
  • 2:00 p.m. – US Treasury budget release

Have a great weekend.

Paul Ausick