Paul Ausick

Markets opened higher this morning after positive news on new unemployment benefits claims and manufacturing (more coverage here). Indexes have risen more or less steadily all day, with the S&P set to close above 1,400 for the first time since June 2008. The US dollar index is weaker today, down -0.50% at 80.165. Most commodities rose on the dollar weakness, with the notable exception of crude oil. WTI crude oil closed down -0.3% at $105.11/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -1.52% at $122.69/barrel. Gold settled up 1% today, at $1,659.50.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 58 points to 13,252.76 (0.44%), the NASDAQ rose more than 15 points (0.51%) to 3,056.37, and the S&P 500 rose 0.60% or more than 8 points to 1,402.59.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Barclays; Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) started as ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus; Ebay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) started as ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus; and Digital Realty Trust (NYSE: DLR) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Abraxas Petroleum Corp. (NASDAQ: AXAS) is down -4.6% at $3.55; AMC Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: AMCX) is down -4% at $44.18; Cato Corp. (NYSE: CATO) is down -0.2% at $27.51; ENI S.p.A. (NYSE: E) is up 1.1% at $47.89; FutureFuel Corp. (NYSE: FF) is up 1.4% at $11.53; Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) is down -0.5% at $56.31; and Travelcenters of America LLC (AMEX: TA) is up 15% at $6.10.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Euro Tech Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: CLWT) is up 55% at $4.50. The Chinese water treatment company has been awarded two new contracts.

Towerstream Corp. (NASDAQ: TWER) is up nearly 42% at $3.69. The 4G wireless provider reported better-than-expected earnings after markets closed yesterday.

Aixtron SE (NASDAQ: AIXG) is up more than 18% at $131. The LED maker is getting a boost from an analyst’s upgrade. More coverage here.

Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO) is up about 16% at $10.32. The recreational vehicle maker missed estimates this morning, but reported a strong order backlog.

Coffee Holding Co. Inc. (NASDAQ: JVA) is up more than 15% at $13.73. The coffee wholesaler continues to attract buying on its strong earnings report last week.

Scholastic Corp. (NASDAQ: SCHL) is up more than 14% at $36.89 after posting a new 52-week high of $40.17 earlier today. The children’s media company raised its 2012 guidance.

Flamel Technologies SA (NASDAQ: FLML) is down nearly -23% at $6.18. The French-based biopharmaceutical company has acquired Eclat Pharmaceuticals and Eclat’s CEO will take over the combined company.

Verso Paper Corp. (NYSE: VRS) is down nearly -13% at $1.77. The paper firm is giving back last week’s gains as its tender offer had to be extended.

Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (NASDAQ: EGLE) is down more than -12% at $1.58. The dry bulk shipper reported a narrower-than-expected loss yesterday, but shipping companies still face a terrible year.

Vringo Inc. (AMEX: VRNG) is down more than -11% at $1.63. The social networking software company is merging with Innovate/Protect Inc. See the press release for details.

Stay tuned for Friday. Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Consumer price index
  • 9:15 a.m. – Industrial production
  • 9:55 a.m. – Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index

Paul Ausick