Markets opened mixed this morning, with the DJIA and S&P 500 opening lower and the Nasdaq Composite opening higher. The Nasdaq was getting a big push from the very strong earnings report out of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The FOMC’s announcement that interest rates would remain near zero until late 2014 started a Fed rally and pushed the S&P into positive territory where they spent the rest of the day. Oil prices were lower this morning, but the weekly status report from the US Energy Information Administration led crude prices to a gain. WTI crude oil is up 0.72% at $99.66/barrel and Brent crude is up 0.16% at $110.21. Gold closed up 2.61% at $1,707.90.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 83 points to 12,758.85 (0.66%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 32 points (1.14%) to 2,818.31, and the S&P 500 rose 0.87% or more than 11 points to 1,326.06.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) cut to ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan; Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) raised to ‘outperform’ at Oppenheimer; Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) cut to ‘neutral’ at Macquarie; and Regions Financial (NYSE: RF) raised to ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital and cut to ‘neutral’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch. Znyga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) gets starting calls from four brokers: ‘overweight’ at Barclays and JPMorgan; ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; and ‘neutral’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch.

Earnings reports since markets closed on last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Apple is up 6.4% at $447.17, after posting a new 52-week high this morning of $454.45; Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) is up nearly 3% at $6.72; Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) is up 1% at $40.54; Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is down -0.6% at $15.60; ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is down -0.9% at $70.01; Praxair Inc. (NYSE: PX) is down -2.8% at $106.05; Wellpoint Inc. (NYSE: WLP) is down -4.9% at $66.01; US Airways Group Inc. (NYSE: LCC) is up more than 18% at $7.59; and Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) is down nearly -10% at $7.81.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) is up more than 46% at $55.16. The genetic testing instrument maker is the target of a $5.7 billion hostile takeover offer from Roche Holdings AG.

Rubicon Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: RBCN) is down nearly -12% at $10.66. The LED lighting maker was downgraded from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’ at Needham yesterday on low demand.

Indiana Community Bancorp (NASDAQ: INCB) is up about 44% at $20.90 after posting a new 52-week high of $21.34 earlier. The bank holding company has agreed to be acquired by Old National Bancorp (NYSE: ONB) in an all-stock transaction.

Complete Genomics Inc. (NASDAQ: GNOM) is up 19% to $2.98. The DNA-sequencing company is getting a boost from the hostile takeover bid for Illumina.

NuVasive Inc. (NASDAQ: NUVA) is up about 19% at $16.31. The medical device maker had its shares stopped today following a report that it would not receive an injunction against selling a disputed product.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:00 a.m. – New home sales
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply reports

Paul Ausick