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Equities opened modestly down this morning and the three major indexes have stayed within a few points of flat all day. The NASDAQ composite has remained in positive territory as the technology sector has benefited from a sharp buying trend in solar stocks. The EIA’s weekly petroleum report came in with a crude build of 5 million barrels, way above an expected gain of 1 million barrels. The report weighed on energy stocks since mid-morning. The euro has also been weaker today, adding a bit of push to equity buying. Crude oil is ending the day down, with WTI crude down about -1.3% at $100.92/barrel and Brent crude is down 0.64% at $112.55/barrel. Gold closed higher, at $1,640.50/ounce, after posting a four-week high earlier today.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 13 points to 12,449.08 (-0.11%), the NASDAQ rose more than 8 points (0.31%) to 2,710.76, and the S&P 500 rose 0.03% or less than 1 point to 1,292.44.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Alcatel-Lucent, S.A. (NYSE: ALU) raised to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank; WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup; Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; and American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK) raised to ‘buy’ at Ladenburg Thalmann.

Earnings reports since markets closed yesterday have led to some price changes: Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) is up 6.3% at $22.07 after posting a new 52-week high of $22.53 earlier today; Supervalu Inc. (NYSE: SVU) is down nearly -13% at $7.33; Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHIP) is up more than 5.5% at $2.65; SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) is more than 5% at $3.69; and Synnex Corp. (NYSE: SNX) is up more than 8% at $34.80.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) is up more than 37% at $1.97. The Chinese solar maker is among several Chinese solar companies getting a boost today from news that solar panel prices appear to be stabilizing. We have more coverage here.

YRC Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: YRCW) is up nearly 16% at $11.38. The transportation company has said it will auction 62 of its surplus US sites.

Crocs Inc. (NASDAQ: CROX) is up more than 17% at $18.73. The funny-shoe company has estimated that sales in the current fiscal year will top $1 billion for the first time.

Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) is down about -22% at $4.55, after posting a new 52-week low of $4.25 earlier today. The silver miner has lowered its production estimate due to a forced closure of a shaft at its Nevada mine.

Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HRC) is down nearly -12% at $30.45. The medical equipment maker and services provider lowered fourth-quarter and full-year guidance last night.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Initial unemployment benefits claims report
  • 8:30 a.m. – Census Bureau retail sales report
  • 10:00 a.m. – Census Bureau business inventories report
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 30-year bond auction
  • 2:00 p.m. – US Treasury budget
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet
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Paul Ausick