24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell (AAPL, ACI, COF, GPS, S, UPS, HAST, IOC, ADBE, FMCN, LDK, QRE, AMPE, CERE)

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Markets opened slightly lower this morning as everyone seemed to be waiting for the announcement from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) regarding its $97 billion cash pile (our coverage here). Financial sector stocks pushed stocks higher in the morning and then weighed them down in the afternoon. The US dollar index has weakened throughout today, now down -0.41% at 79.461. Wheat, corn, and soybeans all fell today, but other commodities rose on the dollar weakness. WTI crude oil closed up 1% at $108.09/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -0.10% at $125.68/barrel. Gold settled up 0.7% today, at $1,667.30/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 6 points to 13,239.06 (0.05%), the NASDAQ rose more than 23 points (0.75%) to 3,078.32, and the S&P 500 rose 0.40% or nearly 6 points to 1,409.75.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) raised to ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) raised to ‘outperform’ at BMO; Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) cut to ‘underperform’ at Bernstein; and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) raised to ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Hastings Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ: HAST) is down -XX% at $XX; and InterOil Corp. (NYSE: IOC) is down -XX% at $XX. After markets close today Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) and Focus Media Holding Ltd. (NASDAQ: FMCN) are scheduled to report earnings.

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) is down more than 5% at $4.64. The Chinese solar maker lowered estimates for the fourth quarter and issued soft estimates for 2012. More coverage here.

QR Energy Inc. (NYSE: QRE) is up more than 4% at $23.27. The oil & gas upstream company announced an acquisition this morning. More coverage here.

Ampio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AMPE) is up nearly 42% at $3.80. The drug firm reported good results on new drug to treat macular disease. More coverage here.

Ceres Inc. (NASDAQ: CERE) is up more than 15% at $17.52 after posting a new post-IPO high of $18.70 earlier today. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota are giving a speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Housing starts
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction
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Paul Ausick