All three major indexes opened higher this morning, but the strength didn’t last as the Chicago PMI number failed to meet expectations and came in lower even than last month’s reading. The lower reading on consumer confidence also supported sellers this morning. Nothing of note was concluded on the Greek debt swap, so that had little effect on the market one way or the other. Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) reported earnings in-line with expectations, that wasn’t good enough for investors today (our coverage here). Crude oil is mixed today, with WTI crude down -0.32% at $98.46/barrel and Brent crude higher by 0.31% at $111.09/barrel. Gold closed today at $1,738.10/ounce, having gained 11% this month (our view here).

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 21 points to 12,632.91 (-0.16%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 2 points (0.07%) to 2,813.84, and the S&P 500 fell -0.05% or less than 1 point to 1,312.40.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) raised to ‘buy’ at Argus; Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) cut to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) started as ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) reiterated as ‘buy’ and target price raised to $80 at Argus; and Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC) raised to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ with a target price of $59 at Canaccord Genuity.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Anixter Inc. (NYSE: AXE) is down -3.7% at $65.25; ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH) is up 1.7% at $28.84; Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE) is down -0.95% at $48.84; Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) is up 1.35% at $39.78; Exxon Mobil is down -1.98% at $83.80; Helmerich & Payne Inc. (NYSE: HP) is up 2.2% at $61.64; L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LLL) is up 1.3% at $70.49; McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. (NYSE: MHP) is down -0.5% at $46.09; Mattel Inc. (NYSE: MAT) is up 5.1% at $31.04 after posting a new 52-week high today of $31.49; Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is down -0.8% at $21.42; and Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) is down -0.73% at $24.10.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Vringo Inc. (NASDAQ: VRNG) is up nearly 21% at $1.40. The social media software maker is apparently basking in the glow of the coming IPO of Facebook. See our coverage here.

RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) is down nearly -30% at $7.19 after setting a new 52-week low of $7.15 earlier today. The social media software maker is apparently basking in the glow of the coming IPO of Facebook. See our coverage here.

Verifone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) is up more than 8% at $42.61. The payment systems maker is getting a boost from a plan by Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) to subsidize the installation of new card readers that use a microchip rather than a magnetic stripe to store customer information.

Rare Element Resources Ltd. (AMEX: REE) is up more than 17% at $7.22. The rare earth minerals miner is likely gaining after a ruling from the WTO that China’s restriction on rare earth minerals’ exports violates global trade rules.

FriendFinder Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFN) is up about 19% at $1.26. The adult social media company is likely also being bought up on the prospective Facebook IPO.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. Automakers will be releasing sales figures for January throughout the day. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
  • 7:30 a.m. – Challenger Job-cut data
  • 8:15 a.m. – ADP employment report
  • 10:00 a.m. – ISM manufacturing index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Construction spending
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report

Paul Ausick

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