US stocks opened higher this morning following an in-line report from ADP on US employment gains. There was little economic news out today, but we can anticipate tomorrow’s report on new jobless claims and, of course, the biggie, Friday’s report on non-farm payrolls. By mid-morning stocks were solidly higher and have been trading more than half a point pretty consistently. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) pretty well shut down the afternoon news with its new iPad announcement (more coverage here). The dollar was weaker this morning and has fluctuated somewhat on the downside all day, trading down -0.12% now at 79.715. Crude oil has been higher on the weaker greenback, with WTI closing up 1.4% at $106.16/barrel and Brent crude up 1.99% at $124.41/barrel. Gold rose 0.7% today, settling at $1,683.90/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 79 points to 12,837.78 (0.62%), the NASDAQ rose more than 25 points (0.87%) to 2,935.69, and the S&P 500 rose 0.69% or more than 9 points to 1,352.63.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NYSE: ADP) raised to ‘Focus List’ at Credit Suisse; Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies; Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) raised to ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan; Moody’s Corp. (NYSE: MCO) cut to ‘neutral at UBS; and Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) raised to ‘outperform’ 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: Adams Golf Inc. (NASDAQ: ADGF) is up 1.7% at $9.60; Chelsea Therapeutics International Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTP) is up 2.3% at $3.57; American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) is up 6.1% at $15.52; Brown Shoe Co. Inc. (NYSE: BWS) is down -9.3% at $9.46; Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) is down -12.8% at $2.86; Cell Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CTIC) is up 0.80% at $1.26; and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV) is up 3.3% at $2.48.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Transcend Services Inc. (NASDAQ: TRCR) is up more than 39% at $29.24. The medical transcription service is being acquired by Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) for $300 million in net cash ($29.50/share). More coverage here.

Magnetek Inc. (NASDAQ: MAG) is up 22% at $17.50. The electrical equipment maker posted a robust quarterly earnings report today.

The Bon Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) is up more than 32% at $6.95. The retailer reported lower-than-expected earnings and revenues, but its forecast is above expectations.

Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) is down more than -24% at $10.83. The Internet radio company posted worse than expected earnings last night. More coverage here.

Vermillion Inc. (NASDAQ: VRML) is down -29% at $2.13. The medical device maker’s stock more than doubled yesterday, and today’s action is likely a bit of profit-taking following an analyst’s downgrade. More coverage here.

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

  • 7:30 a.m. – Challenger Gray & Christmas job-cut report
  • 8:30 a.m. – New unemployment benefits claims
  • 10.00 a.m. – Census Bureau quarterly services survey
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA natural gas storage report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

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