The three major US stock indexes opened higher this morning, following on a positive debt sale by Portugal and some improvement in PMI numbers from Europe. ADP employment data did not meet expectations, but did not pull stocks down. ISM data fell a bit short of expectations, but construction spending rose sharply. In Asia, China posted mixed PMI reports and the country’s data on new loans was lower than expected. US oil and gasoline inventories rose more than expected, put a crimp in energy prices that had started our higher for the day (more coverage here). WTI crude finished the day down -0.9% at $97.61/barrel, its lowest level in six weeks. Brent crude rose 0.71% to $111.77/barrel. Gold closed up 0.41% at $1,747.60.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 83 points to 12,716.31 (0.66%), the NASDAQ rose more than 34 points (1.22%) to 2,848.27, and the S&P 500 rose 0.89% or nearly 12 points to 1,324.08.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM) cut to ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus; Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) raised to ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus; Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus (see our coverage here); and Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW) cut to ‘perform at Oppenheimer. (NASDAQ: AMZN) had three ratings changes today: maintained as ‘neutral’ with target price cut to $190 at Credit Suisse; maintained ‘outperform’ but estimates cut at Baird; and target price lowered to $225 at Jefferies.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: is down -8.2% at $178.51; Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) is up 8.24% at $37.18; Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) is up 3.3% at $45.13; Corinthian Colleges Inc. (NASDAQ: COCO) is up nearly 34% at $4.05; Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE: EPD) is up 3.8% at $50.13, after posting a new 52-week high of $50.35 earlier today; Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN) is up nearly 14% at $45.70; Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC) is up nearly 10% at $41.98; Northrup Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) is up 2.22% at $59.34; and Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) is up 14% at $61.93.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Key Tronic Corp. (NASDAQ: KTCC) is up nearly 37% at $8.53, after posting a new 52-week high of $8.74 earlier today. The computer peripherals maker posted better-than-expected earnings and revenues after markets closed last night.

Sangamo BioSciences Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO) is up more than 21% at $4.19. The pharmaceutical maker has announced a collaboration with Shire plc (NASDAQ: SHPGY) to develop a hemophilia treatment.

Medivation Inc. (NASDAQ: MDVN) is up more than 21% at $67.26, after posting a new 52-week high of $70.87 earlier today. The development stage drug maker has reported highly positive results on a test of its late-stage prostate cancer treatment. We have more coverage here.

JDA Software Group Inc. (NASDAQ: JDAS) is down more than -17% at $24.39. The software maker issued a fairly weak quarterly report and continuing investor wariness remains over an SEC investigation of the company’s accounting practices.

IXYS Corp. (NASDAQ: IXYS) is down more than 14% at $11.76. The integrated circuit maker posted poor quarterly numbers after markets closed last night.

Stay tuned for Thursday. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is speaking at 10:00 a.m. and Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher is speaking in the evening. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:30 a.m. – Challenger Job-cut data
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve money supply and balance sheet reports

Paul Ausick

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