24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (SIRI, IBM, AZN, URBN, ZOLT, YUM, MT, BP, KO, EMR, LPX, MNI, CSTR, SPF, NSU, BPAX)

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US equity markets opened lower this morning, but after the first hour or so of trading, the three major indexes moved to positive territory where they remained for the rest of the day. There was talk that a deal was forthcoming on the Greek debt swap deal, but that did not materialize. Maybe tomorrow? Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t have anything new to say to the US Senate committee this morning, and today’s earnings reports didn’t impress traders much either. A late day report on a big jump in December levels of consumer credit has given the market a small jolt in the last hour of trading. Crude oil is up today, with WTI crude up sharply by 1.82% at $98.67/barrel and Brent crude up 0.23% at $116.20/barrel. Gold closed up 1.4% at $1,748.40/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 33 points to 12,878.43 (0.26%), the NASDAQ rose more than 2 points (0.07%) to 2,904.08, and the S&P 500 rose 0.20% or nearly 3 points to 1,347.05.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) started as ‘underweight’ at Barclays; IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) started as ‘buy’ with a $230 target price at Sterne Agee (our coverage here); AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/ML; Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) cut to ‘sell’ at Brean Murray; and Zoltek Cos. Inc. (NASDAQ: ZOLT) cut to ‘underperform’ at Needham (our coverage here).

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) is up 2.67% at $64.88 after posting a new 52-week high of $65.79 earlier today; ArcelorMittal AS (NYSE: MT) is up 3.5% at $22.19; BP plc (NYSE: BP) is down -0.41% at $46.68; Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) is up 1% at $68.71 (our coverage here); Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE: EMR) is down -2.6% at $51.99; and Louisiana-Pacific Corp. (NYSE: LPX) is down -6.5% at $8.31 (our coverage here).

Our preview of tomorrow’s earnings releases is here.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

The McClatchy Co. (NYSE: MNI) is up 21% at $2.71. The newspaper company reported stronger-than-expected earnings today on cost-cutting.

Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR) is up 16.5% at $58.90 after posting a new 52-week high of $60.81 earlier today. The video rental company will join with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to offer a streaming video service to compete with Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and others. More coverage here and here.

Standard Pacific Corp. (NYSE: SPF) is up 15.8% at $4.69 after posting a new 52-week high of $4.85 earlier today. The homebuilder posted good earnings today and reported that orders are up 8% in January.

Nevsun Resources Ltd. (AMEX: NSU) is down more than -30% at $4.43. The junior gold miner issued a preliminary 2012 outlook that included a sharp drop in production and in its reserves estimates.

BioSante Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: BPAX) is down more than -18% at $0.86. The company is the target of a new lawsuit charging it with misrepresentation. We have more coverage of BioSante here.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. San Francisco Federal Reserve president John Williams is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications report
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – Treasury 10-year note auction
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Paul Ausick