Markets opened higher this morning following the pleasant surprise earnings report from Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) after markets closed yesterday (our coverage here). The report on US crude oil inventories showed a relatively modest gain this week, boosting crude prices (our coverage here). Based on better expectations for quarterly earnings and mildly better news on the global economy, investors took on more risk today, driving up Treasury yields in the bargain. The US dollar index fell slightly today, now down -0.09% at 79.788. The GSCI commodity index is down about -1.5% at 674.42, with orange juice again leading the decliners. WTI crude oil closed up 1.7% at $102.70/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 0.12% at $120.02/barrel. Gold settled down just -$0.40 today, at $1,660.30/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 90 points to 12,806.15 (0.71%), the NASDAQ rose more than 25 points (0.84%) to 3,016.46, and the S&P 500 rose 0.75% or more than 10 points to 1,368.79.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including J.C. Penney & Co. (NYSE: JCP) started as ‘neutral’ at UBS; American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) started as ‘buy’ at Maxim Group; Eldorado Gold Corp. (NYSE: EGO) raised to ‘buy’ at Canaccord Genuity; Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) started as ‘outperform’ at RBC; and Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) started as ‘neutral’ at UBS.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Alcoa is up 6.2% at $9.90; Health Care Services Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HCSG) is up 7.2% at $21.47; Progressive Corp. (NYSE: PGR) is down -0.6% at $22.61; and Adtran Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) is up 7.5% at $30.61. After the markets close today we will hear from Mission West Properties Inc. (NASDAQ: MSW) among others. Before the markets open tomorrow morning we get earnings from Fastenal Corp. (NASDAQ: FAST) and Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Mattress Firm Holding Co. (NASDAQ: MFRM) is up more than 17% at $43.89 after posting a new 52-week high of $45.42 earlier today. The retailing company posted good earnings and announced an acquisition. More coverage here.

Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN) is up more than 17% at $32.20 after posting a new 52-week high of $33.35. The farm machinery company shattered earnings expectations.

Cal Div International Inc. (NYSE: DVR) is up more than 13% at 3.71. The offshore oil field services firm has announced that it will be a 40% partner in the Cape Wind project offshore of Massachusetts.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is down more than -16% at $4.21, a new 52-week low. The cell phone maker warned on earnings this morning and is fixing a glitch in its new Lumia 900 phone. Even more coverage here.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. New York Fed President William Dudley, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota, and Federal Reserve governor Sarah Bloom Raskin are all giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – International trade statistics
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 8:30 a.m. – Producer price index
  • 10.30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 30-year bond auction
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

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