Major indexes reacted positively to this morning’s non-farm payrolls report and the drop in the US unemployment rate from 8.5% to 8.3%. Expectations for the unemployment rate had been no better than flat, and jobs growth of 243,000 was also a big surprise. The report ISM service jobs was also higher than expected this morning, although data on new factory orders was lower than expected. The Nasdaq composite posted an 11-year high today, and yields on US Treasuries also rose as investors headed into equities. Crude oil rose sharply today on the good economic news. WTI crude is up 1.32% at $97.63/barrel and Brent crude is up 2.10% at $114.42/barrel. Gold, as might be expected, dropped -1.64% today to $1,730.50/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 157 points to 12,862.23 (1.23%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 46 points (1.61%) to 2,905.66, and the S&P 500 rose 1.46% or more than 19 points to 1,344.90.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inc. (NASDAQ: PEET) raised to ‘outperform’ at Baird; Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) cut to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies; Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) raised to ‘buy’ at Janney Capital; and Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is up more than 11% at $54.83 after posting a new 52-week high of $54.90 earlier (see our coverage here); Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE: GNW) is up more than 13% at $9.12; PC Connection Inc. (NASDAQ: PCCC) is down nearly -20% at $10.22; Novellus Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: NVLS) is down -0.73% at $48.98, but posted a new 52-week high of $49.92 earlier in the day; PerkinElmer Inc. (NYSE: PKI) is up more than 6% at $26.21; Beam Inc. (NYSE: BEAM) is up 2.4% at $54.28; Estee Lauder Cos. Inc. (NYSE: EL) is down -3.64% at $56.71 (more coverage here); and Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY) is up more than 5% at $21.19.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Threshold Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: THLD) is up nearly 115% at $2.77. The pharmaceuticals firm has announced a global development deal with Germany’s Merck.

Tudou Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: TUDO) is up nearly 19% at $16.66. The Chinese online video company has signed a deal with Sina Corp. (NASDAQ: SINA) to provide a video platform for Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social site.

Zoltek Cos. Inc. (NASDAQ: ZOLT) is up nearly 39% at $13.14. The specialty fibers maker posted good earnings number and forecast continued growth in the market for wind turbines which use its carbon fibers in blade construction.

STR Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: STRI) is down nearly -20% at $9.08. The company manufactures materials used in solar PV modules, and lowered its fourth-quarter guidance this morning.

Mannkind Corp. (NASDAQ: MNKD) is down nearly -13% at $2.15 after posting a new 52-week low of $2.14 earlier. The biotech company has priced its public offering of units containing one share of stock and warrant to purchase another 0.6 shares. More coverage here.

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

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month Treasury bill auction
  • 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS

Have a great weekend.

Paul Ausick

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