Markets opened lower this morning on mixed reaction to the $641 billion borrowing spree from the European Central Bank. Technology stocks were weighed down by poor earnings report and uninspired guidance from one of the industry’s biggest players. The DJIA and the S&P 500 finally reached positive territory about half an hour before closing, but the Nasdaq never touched the line. A very large drawdown on US crude oil inventories helped energy stocks post some gains. One hour before trading closes for the day only a half billion shares have traded hands on the NYSE today. The US dollar is slightly stronger against the euro and the Japanese yen, but down slightly against the British pound. WTI crude oil is up more than 1.5% at $98.79/barrel, and Brent crude is up about 1% at $107.78. Gold was down -0.25% at $1,613.50.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 4 points to 12,107.74 (0.03%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 26 points (-0.99%) to 2,577.97, and the S&P 500 rose 0.19% or more than 2 points to 1,243.72.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) started as ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee. Other ratings actions today include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) started as ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) raised from ‘hold’ to ‘buy’ with a $16 target price at ThinkEquity; Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a $70 target price at Argus; and Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’ at Canaccord Genuity and maintained as ‘buy’ with a lowered target price of $40 at Credit Suisse.

Here are today’s post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Oracle Corp. is down nearly -11% at $25.98; Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) is up nearly 3% at $96.40; Actuant Corp. (NYSE: ATU) is up nearly 9% at $22.61; CarMax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) is down nearly -6% at $29.22; KB Home (NYSE: KBH) is down more than -5% at $7.33; Shaw Group Inc. (NYSE: SHAW) is up nearly 17% at $26.45; and Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG) is down about -0.5% at $33.34. For more on the ripple effects of Oracle’s weak earnings, see our coverage here.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Delphi Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: DFG) is up almost 73% at $43.99 after posting a new 52-week high of $44.00. The insurance and financial services company has agreed to be acquired by Japan’s Tokio Marine for $2.66 billion.

Commercefirst Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ: CMFB) is up nearly 71% at $13.25 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.99 earlier today. The Maryland bank holding company is being acquired by Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ: SASR) for $24.5 million in stock and cash, or about $13.50/share.

Westway Group Inc. (NASDAQ: WWAY) is up nearly 23% at $5.50 after posting a new 52-week high of $6.60 earlier today. The bulk liquid storage provider has rejected a $6/share unsolicited takeover offer from an unidentified infrastructure investment fund.

Ampio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AMPE) is down more than -17% at $4.38. The drug company announced the sale of 2.2 million shares in private sale to investors at $4.25/share.

VMWare Inc. (NYSE: VMW) is down more than -10% at $76.65. The virtual software company is suffering from Oracle’s weak earnings and guidance.

CommVault Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CVLT) is down more than -15% at $39.22. The software company is another of Oracle’s victims.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – US Commerce Department GDP report
  • 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment benefits claims report
  • 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Federal Reserve national activity index
  • 8:30 a.m. – Bureaus of Economic Analysis corporate profits report
  • 9:55 a.m. – Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Federal Housing Finance Agency house price index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Conference Board leading economic indicators
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas inventory report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply reports

Paul Ausick