US equities markets opened lower this morning following surprisingly weak manufacturing reports from Europe and China. Fitch Ratings’ downgrade of Greek debt to ‘CCC’ could not have been a surprise, but the move highlighted the doubts about whether or not Greece will be able to meet its new obligations. The new home sales report was weaker than expected (see our coverage here) and rising crude oil costs also kept markets on the downside. Indexes remained in negative territory for most of the day and are set to close with modest losses. Crude oil was higher today, with WTI crude up 0.02% at $106.27/barrel and Brent crude up 1.23% at $123.16/barrel. Gold settled up 0.7% at $1,771.30, a three-month high.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down almost 27 points to 12,938.75 (-0.21%), the NASDAQ fell more than 15 points (-0.52%) to 2,933.17, and the S&P 500 fell -0.33% or nearly 5 points to 1,357.66.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) reiterated as ‘outperform’ and target price lifted to $600 at Credit Suisse; Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup and cut to ‘hold’ at Needham; The Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) raised to ‘buy’ at Canaccord Genuity; Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) cut to ‘market perform’ at Bernstein; and Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) started as ‘neutral’ at Citigroup.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Basic Energy Services Inc. (NYSE: BAS) is up 0.15% at $19.90; Community Health Systems Inc. (NYSE: CYH) is up 14.3% at $23.61; Grand Canyon Education Inc. (NASDAQ: LOPE) is down -0.95% at $17.67; Range Resources Inc. (NYSE: RRC) is up 3.4% at $66.47; Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. (NASDAQ: CETV) is down -18.5% at $6.93; Chico’s FAS Inc. (NYSE: CHS) is up 16.9% at $14.97; Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) is down -0.76% at $87.34; Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN) is up 9.2% at $48.81 after posting a new 52-week high of $49.93 (more coverage here); Novagold Resources Inc. (AMEX: NG) is flat at $8.75; R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. (NYSE: RRD) is down -1.8% at $13.00; and Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) is down -4.8% at $22.56 (more coverage here).
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
HealthStream Inc. (NASDAQ: HSTM) is up nearly 34% at $23.18 after posting a new all-time high of $23.19 earlier today. The Internet-based health learning company beat both EPS and revenue expectations in its most recent quarter.
Sourcefire Inc. (NASDAQ: FIRE) is up nearly 27% at $45.34 after posting a new all-time high of $45.50 earlier today. The Internet security provider handily beat earnings and revenue expectations last night.
Threshold Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: THLD) is up nearly 20% at $6.0. The pharmaceutical maker yesterday announced positive results for its pancreatic cancer treatment.
Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE: NFX) is down more than -12% at $37.06. The independent oil & gas company missed EPS and revenue estimates last night.
Brightpoint Inc. (NASDAQ: CELL) is down more than -11% at $8.89. The mobile-phone wholesaler has cut its outlook for 2012.
Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New US claims for unemployment benefits
- 10:00 a.m. – Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 11:00 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
- 1:00 p.m. – 7-year note auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply