Stocks started the day nearly flat before turning down on a poor report on US durable goods orders (more coverage here) and a slide in the Case-Shiller home price index (more coverage here). The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index came in much stronger than expected, however, and all the indexes had turned positive by mid-morning (more coverage here). The tech sector, led by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), which posted a new 52-week high over $543/share, carried the rest of the market higher. Crude oil was lower today, with WTI crude lower by -1.9% at $106.55/barrel and Brent crude down -1.92% at $121.79/barrel. Gold settled up 0.8% at $1,788.40/ounce, the yellow metal’s highest close since more than three months.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 24 points to 13,005.12 (0.18%), the NASDAQ rose more than 20 points (0.69%) to 2,986.76, and the S&P 500 rose 0.34% or nearly 5 points to 1,372.18.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM) cut to ‘hold’ at TD; Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) maintained as ‘neutral’ but target price cut to $13 at Credit Suisse; Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) maintained as ‘outperform’ and target price raised from $60 to $74 at Credit Suisse; Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) raised to ‘overweight’ at Barclays; and Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) started as ‘perform’ at Oppenheimer.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN) is up nearly 7% at $632.78 after posting a new 52-week high of $637.88 earlier today (more coverage here); HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC) is down -3.7% at $31.91 (more coverage here); Autozone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) is up 2.7% at $375.94 after posting a new 52-week high of $377.78; Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc. (NASDAQ: CRZO) is down -0.5% at $27.47; Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) is up nearly 16% at $38.88 after posting a new 52-week high of $38.90 earlier today (more coverage here); Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) is up nearly 19% at $3.58; Sanderson Farms Inc. (NASDAQ: SAFM) is down -1.5% at $48.72; Rowan Companies Inc. (NYSE: RDC) is down -6% at $36.20; TechData Corp. (NASDAQ: TECD) is down -6.7% at $53.62; and YRC Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: YRCW) is down -13% at $10.31.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Alimera Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: ALIM) is up about 76% at $4.06. The eyecare drug maker received a positive outcome from a European regulatory body for its ILUVIEN treatment.

Tibet Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: TBET) is up 14% at $1.71. The drug maker is being taken private by its CEO and chairman for $3/share.

Summer Infant Inc. (NASDAQ: SUMR) is up nearly 25% at $5.98. The maker of branded juvenile products announced better than expected earnings this morning.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) is down more than -26% at $1.19. The ethanol maker’s reported earnings fell short of expectations. More coverage here.

Career Education Corp. (NASDAQ: CECO) is down more than -18% at $9.17. The for-profit education company posted a weak earnings report this morning.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher, and Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser are giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
  • 8:30 a.m. – US GDP
  • 9:45 a.m. – Chicago PMI
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 2:00 p.m. – Federal Reserve Beige Book
  • 3:00 p.m. – Farm prices

Paul Ausick

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