24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (BHP, MCP, CCL, SHLD, PKD, DLPH, PNY, RDI, ACAT, DCTH, END, LEDS)

Stocks open slightly higher this morning, but quickly reversed course to begin falling in less than five minutes of trading. The DJIA hit a morning low just before noon and has bounced around off that ever since. The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 have followed the same pattern. Italy’s successful auction of short-term debt was quickly followed by a drop in the euro to below $1.30, where the single currency has remained throughout the day. Commodity prices have been generally lower today, although wheat, corn, and coffee have posted gains. Crude oil prices have fallen following a statement by Saudi Arabia that other countries would pick up any shortfall in crude deliveries caused by possible Iranian action in the Strait of Hormuz. Brent crude is down -1.85% at $107.42/barrel and WTI is down the same amount at $99.49/barrel. Gold is down sharply, nearly -2.5%, at $1,556.40/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 140 points to 12,151.64 (-1.14%), the NASDAQ fell more than 35 points (-1.34%) to 2,589.98, and the S&P 500 fell -1.25% or nearly 16 points to 1,249.66.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including BHP Billiton plc (NYSE: BHP) cut from ‘neutral’ to ‘underperform’ at Zack’s Investment Research; Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) target price and estimate lowered to $39 at JPMorgan; Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) maintained as ‘hold’ but estimates cut at Argus; Sears Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) maintained as ‘underperform’ and target price lowered to $20 at Credit Suisse; Parker Drilling Co. (NYSE: PKD) named ‘value stock of the day’ at Zack’s; and Delphi Automotive (NASDAQ: DLPH) started as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.

There are no earnings reports of note out yet today. After markets close today Piedmont Natural Gas Co. (NYSE: PNY) and Reading International Inc. (NASDAQ: RDI) are scheduled to report earnings.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Arctic Cat Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAT) is up more than 20% at $22.80, after posting a new 52-week high of $24 earlier today. The recreational vehicle maker announced that it had repurchased a 33% stake in the company owned by Suzuki, reducing outstanding shares by about a third.

Delcath Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: DCTH) is up nearly 11% at $3.38. The drug development company has received EU standards certification for its plant in Galway, Ireland.

Endeavor International Corp. (NYSE: END) is up nearly 11% to $8.78. The independent oil & gas company continues to receive attention for its purchase of North Sea assets from ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and an ratings upgrade from ‘market perform’ to ‘outperform’ at Rodman & Renshaw.

Molycorp shares are down nearly -14% at $24.12 after posting a new 52-week low of $24.03 earlier today. The rare earths miner was downgraded this morning and a Chinese announcement on exports of rare earth minerals are both weighing on the company. More on Molycorp here.

SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) is up more than 18% at $3.81. The LED lighting maker hit a technical target at around $3.29/share. Trading in SemiLEDS shares is about 6x average daily volume.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment benefits claims
  • 9:45 a.m. – Chicago PMI report
  • 10:00 a.m. – National Association of Realtors pending home sales index
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas status report
  • 11:00 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply reports

Paul Ausick

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