24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (CVX, EK, JPM, WSM, INFY, BGFV, MSFT, TGT)

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Equities had a hard time deciding whether to follow a bull or a bear on Thursday.  Retail sales were mixed, but weekly jobless claims rose unexpectedly and the fears are that the weekly jobless claims could start hitting the 400,000 mark again. To top it off, The European Union decided to not lower interest rates despite all of the woes of the continent.  A crop report put a dent in agriculture and fertilizer stocks, and earnings warnings left several issuers down considerably. The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up 21 points to 12,471.02, the NASDAQ rose almost 14 points to 2,724.70, and the S&P 500 rose 3 points to 1,295.50.  Today’s analyst upgrades and downgrades are here.

Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) was the surprise warnings in the oil and gas sector, sending shares down 2.6% at $104.91.

Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: EK) was down after a highlighted Moody’s note signals that even with a patent deal the company could run out of cash in the middle of 2012. Shares were down 18% at $0.66 late in the day.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) fluctuated all day ahead of Friday’s earnings report, where we believe many will try to look at book value and other metrics to try to justify the massive gains in the banking sector since the end of 2011. Shares were up $0.03 at $36.69 a few minutes before the closing bell.

Earnings warnings took a bite, as much as double-digit percentage bites, ou of the following stocks: Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE: WSM), Infosys Ltd. (NASDAQ: INFY), Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation (NASDAQ: BGFV).

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) managed to hold up a day after management gave a cautious PC market outlook.  In analyst calls, it was maintained Outperform but cut target to $34 from $35 at Credit Suisse and it was maintained Hold and lowered estimates at Argus.

Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) was up 1.4% at $49.73 right before the close on news of a news and expanded $5 billion share buyback plan.

Stay tuned for Friday, particularly since this will be Friday the 13th!  Here are Friday’s economic reports to watch:

  • 8:30 AM NOV Trade Balance
  • 8:30 AM DEC Import & Export Prices
  • 9:50 AM JAN Univ. Michigan Sentiment (preliminary)

JON C. OGG