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The three major US equities indexes opened higher this morning on the news from Europe that the Greek debt swap deal would be a success. That prediction turned out to be solid, as about 80% of Greek bondholders agreed to the swap, taking pressure of the Greeks at least for the time being. The US new jobless claims number came in a bit higher than expected this morning, but traders hardly noticed. Tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls report is the one everyone’s waiting for, with a consensus estimate of 210,000 new jobs. The dollar opened weaker today, and has continued to trickle down with the dollar index down -0.74% at 79.123. Crude oil was higher today, with WTI crude settling up 0.4% at $106.58/barrel and Brent crude up 1.17% at $125.57/barrel. Gold settled higher by 0.9% at $1,698.70/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 70 points to 12,907.87 (0.55%), the NASDAQ rose more than 34 points (1.18%) to 2,970.42, and the S&P 500 rose 0.98% or more than 13 points to 1,365.91.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) reiterated as ‘buy’ with target price raised from $600 to $660 at Goldman Sachs; ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a $72 target price at Argus; Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) started as ‘hold’ at Canaccord Genuity; and Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO) started as ‘overweight’ at Barclays.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Coldwater Creek Inc. (NASDAQ: CWTR) is up 0.9% at $1.02; Flotek Industries Inc. (NYSE: FTK) is up 9.7% at $12.11; Hot Topic Inc. (NASDAQ: HOTT) is up 13.4% at $9.97 after posting a new 52-week high of $10.11; Korn/Ferry International (NYSE: KFY) is up 0.3% at $15.33; A123 Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: AONE) is down -2.5% at $1.56; Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) is up 5.2% at $10.76; Fuel Systems Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: FSYS) is down -2.2% at $25.74; JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) is down -6.9% at $5.54 (more coverage here); Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) is down -2% at $39.25 (more coverage here); NeurogesX Inc. (NASDAQ: NGSX) is down -20% at $0.53 (more coverage here); Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD) is down -2.2% at $22.31 (more coverage here); Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) is down -8.6% at $6.38 (more coverage here); and Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) is down -1.4% at $2.89.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Verso Paper Corp. (NYSE: VRS) is up 77% at $2.16. The paper maker will issue new debt of $345 in senior secured notes and has issued a tender offer for $315 million in 11.5% senior unsecured notes outstanding.

Stanley Furniture Co. Inc. (NASDAQ: STLY) is up about 20% at $4.29. The wood furniture maker has announced that it expects to receive a payment of about $40 million as a result of an anti-dumping ruling against Chinese furniture makers.

Mueller Water Products (NYSE: MWA) is up more than 21% at $3.46. The maker of water transmission, distribution, and measurement products is selling its pipe and foundry business for about $100 million in cash and other considerations. More coverage here.

Sunshine Heart Inc. (NASDAQ: SSH) is down more than -8% at $11.00. The medical device maker came public on February 16th, and is nearing the dreaded busted IPO line.

Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc. (NASDAQ: ZLTQ) is down more than -13% at $5.65 after posting a new 52-week low of $5.60 earlier. The medical technology company posted a dismal fourth-quarter earnings report earlier this week and has just set its second record-low of the week as well.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm employment report
  • 8:30 a.m. – International trade report
  • 10.00 a.m. – Wholesale trade report
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Paul Ausick