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

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