24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (LNKD, CSTR, NWS.A, BDL, LIVE, ARL, CYAN, DMND, CSKI)

Stocks opened higher this morning and settled in around noon with positive readings on all three major indexes. The Chicago PMI report was down slightly from a month ago, but better than expected. The pending home sales report came in substantially better than expected, while new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected but still remained under a 400,000 annualized rate. The euro has regained some strength after starting below $1.29. The dollar index has declined during the day, to a loss of -0.022%, or 80.492. Crude oil prices have recovered following a rise in US crude inventories. WTI crude is up about 0.4% at $99.72/barrel and Brent crude is also up about 4% at $107.97. Gold is down more than -1% at $1,547.10/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 135 points to 12,286.96 (1.12%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 24 points 0.92%) to 2,613.74, and the S&P 500 rose 1.07% or more than 13 points to 1,262.96. With just one trading day left in 2011, the Dow is up 5.8% and the S&P 500 is up 0.1%, while the Nasdaq is down 1.7%.

There were a few analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including LinkedIn Corp. (NASDAQ: LNKD) started as ‘buy’ at Collins Stewart; Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR) named ‘value stock of the day’ at Zack’s Investment Research; and News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS.A) raised to ‘top pick list’ at RBC Capital Markets.

There are no earnings reports of note scheduled today. After markets closed last night, Flanigan’s Enterprises Inc. (AMEX: BDL) reported earnings and the shares are trading down more than -7% at $6.89 in the last half hour of trading today.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

LiveDeal Inc. (NASDAQ: LIVE) is up more than 33% at $4.08. The customer acquisition company regained its compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements.

American Realty Investors Inc. (NYSE: ARL) is up nearly 38% at $1.86. The real estate investment company is probably reacting to the pending home sales report and the report of a sale by PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) of an unfinished development in Colorado.

Cyanotech Corp. (NASDAQ: CYAN) is down more than -15% at $7.56. The natural foods maker has had a recent run-up its stock price, and today’s fall may simply reflect some profit-taking.

Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is up more than 8% at $31.87. The snack foods company is rumored to have had a stake in the company acquired by David Einhorn and Greenlight Capital Inc.

China Sky One Medical Inc. (NASDAQ: CSKI) is down nearly -10% at $1.02, after posting a new 52-week low of $0.89 earlier today. The medical device maker’s stock is down -46% for the year and today’s increase likely indicates some value hunting on the part of investors.

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

  • 3:00 p.m. – US Department of Agriculture farm prices report

Paul Ausick

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.