24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (POT, AGU, SKS, VVUS, MU, AM, CPY, NEOG, TIBX, BBBY, RAM, WCAA, ABIO, PHH, LRE)

A downward revision to third-quarter GDP did not hold down early trading this morning as markets got off to a good start and remained in positive territory throughout the day. A rise in consumer confidence and in leading economic indicators likely solidified the gains. Trading volume was light again today in the run-up to the holiday weekend. WTI crude traded at $99.46/barrel and Brent traded at $107.73. Gold continues to slide, down -$5.80, at $1,607.80/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 63 points to 12,170.86 (0.52%), the NASDAQ rose more than 21 points (0.83%) to 2,599.45, and the S&P 500 rose 0.83% or more than 10 points to 1,254.07.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) raised from ‘sector perform’ to ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital Markets. Other ratings actions today include Agrium Corp. (NYSE: AGU) cut from ‘outperform’ to ‘sector perform’ at RBC Capital Markets; Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) cut from ‘outperform’ to ‘neutral’ at Zack’s; Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) cut from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ at Roth Capital and maintained ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse; and Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) maintained as ‘buy’ with an $11 target price at Sterne Agee and maintained as ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse.

Here are some of last night’s and today’s post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Micron Technology is up nearly 18% at $6.54; American Greetings Inc. (NYSE: AM) is down more than -21% at $13.37, after posting a new 52-week low of $12.85 earlier in the day; CPI Corp. (NYSE: CPY) is down more than -62% at $2.00, after posting a new 52-week low of $1.96 earlier in the day; Neogen Corp. (NASDAQ: NEOG) is down nearly -3% at $31.15; Tibco Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TIBX) is up nearly 8% at $23.74; and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) is down more than -6% at $57.70.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

RAM Energy Resources Inc. (NASDAQ: RAM) is up nearly 71% at $1.88. The independent oil & gas company has today relisted on the NASDAQ and has also announced a $550 million investment from a private equity firm headed by the former chairman and CEO of Petrohawk.

WCA Waste Corp. (NASDAQ: WCAA) is up nearly 31% at $6.43, after posting a new 52-week high of $6.44 earlier. The non-hazardous waste processor has approved a cash buyout offer for $526 million ($6.50/share) from a private investment fund.

ARCA biopharma Inc. (NASDAQ: ABIO) is down more than -24% at $1.02, after posting a new 52-week low of $0.97 earlier today. The biopharmaceutical firm announced a private placement of $1.75 million in stock and warrants.

PHH Corp. (NYSE: PHH) is down more than -15% at $11.01 after posting a new 52-week low of $8.75 earlier today. The mortgage servicer’s credit ratings were cut at S&P to ‘BB-’ on concern that the company would not be able to make a $423 million debt repayment scheduled for March 2013 out the its free cash flow.

Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is down more than -16% at $8.72 after posting a new 52-week low of $8.60 earlier. The biopharmaceutical firm announced that its weight-loss drug Qnexa led to a higher rate of birth defects in children whose mothers were taking the drug during pregnancy.

LRR Energy, L.P. (NYSE: LRR) is up more than 9% at $19.34. The independent oil & gas company has received positive ratings from several brokers following last week’s more than 9 million new common units.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders report
  • 8:30 a.m. – Personal income and spending report
  • 10:00 a.m. – New home sales

Paul Ausick

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