Markets opened slightly higher this morning but have been wobbling around the neutral line for the whole day. This morning’s report on the decline of housing prices (our coverage here) and the drop in US consumer confidence has kept buyers in check (our coverage here

). There was little other news sufficient to move the markets today. The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.14% at 79.091. Commodities were mixed on the dollar strength, with wheat taking the biggest decline. WTI crude oil closed up 0.3% at $107.33/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -0.34% at $125.22/barrel. Gold settled down less than -0.1% today, at $1,684.90/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 44 points to 13,197.96 (-0.33%), the NASDAQ fell more than 2 points (-0.07%) to 3,120.35, and the S&P 500 fell -0.28% or nearly 4 points to 1,412.52.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) started as ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) started as ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus; Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) cut to ‘neutral’ at Baird; Southern Copper Corp. (NYSE: SCCO) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; and Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Apollo Group Inc. is down -8.6% at $39.48; Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (NYSE: GOL) is up 2.7% at $7.32; Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG) is up 1.3% at $34.80; and Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) is up 4.7% at $27.65 after posting a new 52-week high earlier today of $28.28 (more coverage here and here). After markets close today Christopher & Banks Corp. (NYSE: CBK) and Synnex Corp. (NYSE: SNX) will report earnings. Before the markets open in the morning, we’ll get earnings from Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) and the Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ISTA) is up 7.9% at $9.04. The drug company is being acquired. More coverage here.

Opnext Inc. (NASDAQ: OPXT) is up more than 53% at $1.73. The optical equipment maker is merging with Oclaro Inc. (NASDAQ: OCLR). More coverage here.

Zhongpin Inc. (NASDAQ: HOGS) is up nearly 25% at $11.51. The Chinese food processing company has received a preliminary offer to be taken private. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers’ Association purchase applications
  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 5-year note auction

Paul Ausick