24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (INTC, BA, AZO, DD, EPB, LEN, TOL, BRN, DMND, VMC, OXGN, HBP, PNCL, ROSE, NBG)

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US equity markets opened sharply lower this morning and continued falling before levelling off at around 200 pts down on the DJIA. The downturn followed closer examination of the European Union’s agreement last week which traders hoped would put an end to the debt crisis in Europe. That turned out not to be the case, however, with both Moody’s and Fitch Ratings expressing doubts about the permanence of the deal. An announcement of lowered guidance from Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) weighed on the tech sector. WTI crude oil is trading at $97.94/barrel shortly before today’s close, down about -1.5%, and gold is up about 1.85% at $1,744.50.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 162 points to 12,021.77 (-1.33%), the NASDAQ fell more than 34 points (-1.31%) to 2,612.26, and the S&P 500 fell nearly -1.5% or more than 18 points to 1,236.48.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) raised to overweight with an $82 target price at Morgan Stanley. Other ratings actions today include AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) maintained as ‘buy’ with a $381 target price at Argus, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. (NYSE: DD) cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; El Paso Pipeline Partners L.P. (NYSE: ELB) started as ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan; Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) and Toll Brothers, Inc. (NYSE: TOL) cut to ‘hold’ at KeyBanc.

Here are today’s post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Barnwell Industries Inc. (AMEX: BRN) is down about -2.8% at $3.09. There were no other earnings report of note today.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is down more than -22% at $31.45. The snack food company faces more questions about its accounting. See our coverage for more details.

Vulcan Materials Co. (NYSE: VMC) is up more than 15% at $38.84. The construction materials company received an unsolicited takeover bid from competitor Martin Marietta Materials Inc. (NYSE: MLM).

Oxigene, Inc. (NASDAQ: OXGN) is up nearly 20% at $1.21. The biopharmaceutical company has signed an agreement with a Danish pharmaceutical firm to provide one of Oxigene’s cancer drugs in Europe.

Helix Biopharma Corp. (AMEX: HBP) is down nearly -13% at $1.36. The cancer drug development company has appointed a special committee and engaged an outside auditing firm to investigate claims of unauthorized “representations and assurances” made by certain shareholders to European shareholders who purchased the company’s shares in a private placement.

Pinnacle Airlines Corp. (NASDAQ: PNCL) is down nearly -16% at 1.17, after posting a new 52-week low of $1.08 earlier today. The regional airlines is initiating a program to cut costs and raise cash, and shares were downgraded today at Dahlman Rose from ‘hold’ to ‘sell’ with a target price of $0.75.

Rosetta Resources Inc. (NASDAQ: ROSE) is down -11% at $45.00. The oil & gas exploration & production company experienced disappointing results from two wells in northern Montana.

National Bank of Greece SA (NYSE: NBG) is down more than -15% at $2.03, after posting a new 52-week low of $2.01 earlier today. The bank is the victim of the lack of enthusiasm that developed over the weekend for the Eurozone agreement.

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

  • 7:30 a.m. – NFIB small business optimism index
  • 8:30 a.m. – Retail sales
  • 10:00 a.m. – Business inventories
  • 2:15 p.m. – Federal Reserve open market committee meeting announcement.
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Paul Ausick