Stocks opened modestly higher this morning and have wiggled around the neutral line all day. No significant news came out that would have influenced market action much one way or another. The dollar index gathered strength all day, though, and is up 0.47% to 80.567. The stronger dollar pushed down commodities prices, with crude oil closing lower for the first time in about a month. WTI crude closed down -1.2% at $105.43/barrel and Brent crude is trading down -0.86% at $125.14/barrel. Gold settled at $1,642.90/ounce, down 3%, in the yellow metal’s worst showing in two months.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 16 points to 13,194.10(0.12%), the NASDAQ rose less than 1 point (0.03%) to 3,040.73, and the S&P 500 fell -0.12% or about 2 points to 1,394.28.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) maintained as ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse; Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) cut to ‘market perform’ at BMO; Vodafone Group plc (NASDAQ: VOD) cut to ‘underperform’ at BNP Paribus; Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) maintained as ‘outperform’ but estimates lowered at Credit Suisse; and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) raised to ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Energy Solutions Inc. (NYSE: ES) is up 2% at $4.54; FXCM Inc. (NYSE: FXCM) is up 10% at $11.55; Global Ship Lease Inc. (NYSE: GSL) is down -7.3% at $3.18; Marcus Corp. (NYSE: MCS) is down -1.5% at $12.31; and Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ANAC) is up 2.5% at $5.73.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Helios & Matheson Information Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: HMNY) is up more than 87% at $5.33 after posting a new 52-week high of $7.00 earlier today. The business software company posted a surprise profit for fiscal 2011.

Endocyte Inc. (NASDAQ: ECYT) is up nearly 58% at $5.87. The drug maker posted better-than-expected quarterly and annual results last night.

SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SCLN) is up about 22% at $6.39 after posting a new 52-week high of $6.97 earlier. The biopharmaceutical company beat estimates and provided a strong outlook for 2012.

Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (NASDAQ: PSUN) is down nearly -18% at $2.06. The apparel maker posted a larger than expected loss last night. More coverage here.

Guidewire Software Inc. (NYSE: GWRE) is up more than 17% at $30.09 after posting a new 52-week high of $32.79 earlier today. The business software company announced a new contract this morning.

NuPathe Inc. (NASDAQ: PATH) is up nearly 20% at $3.91. The biotechnology company’s transdermal patch for migraine sufferers got a strong review from a financial web site today.

Federal Signal Corp. (NYSE: FSS) is up more than 22% at $5.61. The specialty truck maker posted better-than-expected revenues this morning.

Sterling Construction Co. Inc. (NASDAQ: STRL) is down more than -16% at $8.58 after posting a new 52-week low of $8.57 earlier today. The construction firm posted an unexpectedly weak earnings report this morning.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – New US unemployment benefits claims
  • 8:30 a.m. – Producer price index
  • 8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing index
  • 9:00 a.m. – Treasury International Capital (TIC) report
  • 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick