US equity markets opened lower this morning and never moved into positive territory all day. Greek debt swap negotiations made no discernible progress today and there was no scheduled data on tap to move the market one way or the other. The dollar picked up strength against the euro today, but faltered against the British pound and the Japanese yen. The dollar index rose 0.1385 to 79.051. Crude oil was mixed with WTI crude down -0.76% at $97.10/barrel and Brent crude up 1.39% at $116.17/barrel. Gold closed down -0.9% at $1,724.90/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 17 points to 12,845.20 (-0.13%), the NASDAQ fell almost 4 points (-0.13%) to 2,901.99, and the S&P 500 fell -0.04% or less than 1 point to 1,344.33.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/ML; Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY) cut to ‘sell’ at UBS; Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) raised to ‘outperform’ at RBS; Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) raised to ‘outperform’ at Piper Jaffray; and Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS-A) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse.

Earnings reports since markets closed last week have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: IDTI) is down -0.98% at $6.60; McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) is up 1.71% at $82.18; Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. (NYSE: PCL) is up 0.32% at $39.81; Ltd. (NASDAQ: CYOU) is down -12.43% at $25.50; Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is down -5.8% at $84.90; Lazard Ltd. (NYSE: LAZ) is down -4.3% at $27.65; Loews Corp. (NYSE: L) is down -0.85% at $38.28; and Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY) is down -4% at $29.66.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

SureWest Communications (NASDAQ: SURW) is up more than 44% at $22.50 after posting a new 52-week high of $22.69 earlier. The telecom provider has agreed to be acquired by Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSL) for about $341 million, or $23/share.

O’Charley’s Inc. (NASDAQ: CHUX) is up nearly 42% at $9.81 after posting a new 52-week high of $9.88. The company has agreed to be acquired by Fidelity National Financial Inc. (NYSE: FNF) for $221 million, about $9.85/share. Inc. (NASDAQ: SOHU) is down nearly -15% at $53.61. The Chinese internet company posted solid earnings, but its Q1 forecast was below expectations.

Great Basin Gold Ltd. (AMEX: GBG) is down -11% at $1.05. The junior gold miner reported preliminary results today that were worse than expected and lowered first quarter production estimates.

Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) is up about 17.6% at $16.66. The drug maker is getting a boost from a negative report on a prostate cancer drug treatment that would compete with Dendreon’s Provenge.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before Senate Budget Committee. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 11:30 a.m. – 4- and 52-week Treasury bill auction
  • 3:00 p.m. – Consumer credit report

Paul Ausick

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