Paul Ausick

Equity markets opened mixed this morning, with the DJIA up slightly and the NASDAQ Composite and S&P 500 down slightly. That pattern held throughout the day as last night’s report from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) held tech stocks down today. Financials were mixed and no other sector took the lead to push trading higher. A positive report on existing home sales did not appease traders either. Crude oil is down today on continuing concern that Chinese demand will soften and that European growth will be low. WTI crude is down -1.92% at $98.46/barrel and Brent crude is down -1.39% at $110.00/barrel. Gold is up 0.60% at $1,664.40.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 97 points to 12,720.48 (0.76%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 2 points (-0.06%) to 2,786.70, and the S&P 500 rose a bare 0.07% or less than 1 point to 1,315.37.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Google maintained as ‘buy’ but target price cut to $700 at Canaccord Genuity; Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI) cut to ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan; Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) reiterated as ‘buy’ with $35 target price at Argus; Tractor Supply Co. (NASDAQ: TSCO) reiterated as ‘buy’ and target price raised to $92 at Argus; and Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo.

Earnings reports since markets closed yesterday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Google is down -8.78% at $583.39; Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is up 2.75% at $26.33; IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is up 4.48% at $188.61; Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is up 1.42% at $7.06; American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) is down -1.94% at $49.96; General Electric is down -0.21% at $19.11; Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB is up 0.74% at $73.40; and Suntrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) is up 4.79% at $21.21.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Insmed Inc. (NASDAQ: INSM) is up nearly 30% at $4.94. The biotech company announced that the FDA has lifted a clinical hold on a lung disease drug.

The Talbots Inc. (NYSE: TLB) is up nearly 18% at $3.17. The clothing retailer is rumored to be under consideration for a takeover by two private equity firms.

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) is up nearly 14% at $49.25. The general merchandise retailer is thought to be under consideration for a takeover offer from its largest shareholder.

NCI Inc. (NASDAQ: NCIT) is down nearly -32%, after posting a new 52-week low of $7.71 earlier today. The federal contractor will restructure to compensate for loss of contracts.

Cogent Communications Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CCOI) is down nearly -18% at $15.45. The network communications provider is suffering from the shutdown last night of the website, one of Cogent’s largest customers, by federal authorities.

Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3-month and 6-month Treasury bill auctions

Have a great weekend.

Paul Ausick