US markets opened fast this morning, up nearly 1% in the first hour of trading before giving most of the gain back by mid-morning and then wandering around a gain of less than 0.5% for the rest of the day. Better manufacturing data from Europe, and solid manufacturing gains in the US helped the market in the early going. The US dollar was down against the euro, the yen, and the British pound. Crude oil prices fell today, with WTI down more than -1.5% at $93.44/barrel and Brent down about -0.9% at $103.33. Gold continued its slide as well today, down more than -1% at $1,568.80/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 47 points to 11,869.95 (0.39%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 2 points (0.07%) to 2,541.01, and the S&P 500 rose 0.33% or about 4 points to 1,215.83.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) started as ‘buy’ at Nomura. Other ratings actions today include First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ at R.W. Baird; Siemens AG (NYSE: SI) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; and Affymetrix Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) raised from ‘neutral’ to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.

Here are today’s post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is down -3.2% at $23.06; FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) is up almost 8% at $83.45; Pier 1 Imports, Inc. (NYSE: PIR) is up 0.23% at $13.17; Scholastic Corp. (NASDAQ: SCHL) is up more than 4% at $26.73; and Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WGO) is down -0.15% at $6.80.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

SonoSite Inc. (NASDAQ: SONO) is up more than 27% at $53.68, a new 52-week high. The ultrasound device maker has been acquired by Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Inc. for $54/share, or about $995 million. Our coverage is here.

Novellus Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVLS) is up more than 17% at $40.68, after posting a new 52-week high of $42.50 earlier today. The semiconductor equipment maker is being acquired by Lam Research Corp. (NASDAQ: LRCX) for $3.3 billion in an all-stock deal. More coverage here.

Gevo Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO) is up more than 13.5% at $6.41. The biofuel and chemical company signed an agreement with The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) to develop a new bio-derived plastic bottle.

Zoll Medical Corp. (NASDAQ: ZOLL) is up more than 29% at $60.47, after posting a new 52-week high earlier today of $63.86. The medical device maker’s wearable defibrillator has been re-affirmed for Medicare coverage.

BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: BPAX) is down more than -77% at $0.48, after posting a new 52-week low of $0.46 earlier today. The biopharmaceutical company reported that its experimental drug to enhance libido in post-menopausal women failed a late-stage trial.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) is down nearly -18% at $0.87. The ethanol maker announced the completion of a sale of about 12.6 million shares and warrants to 11 private investors for just over $8 million in cash.

Stay tuned for Friday. Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans and Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher are speaking tomorrow. Here is another other noteworthy event on the schedule (all times Eastern):

8:30 a.m. – Consumer price index for November released

Paul Ausick

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