Markets opened slightly higher this morning and about an hour before the markets close all three major indexes are more than 1% higher. The report on new unemployment claims was weaker than expected (our coverage here), but better news from Europe, especially lower Italian bond yields, gave the market a lift. There is also some expectation that China’s GDP report tonight will be strong, indicating that the world’s second-largest economy is still growing. The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.64% at 79.288. The GSCI commodity index is up about 0.7% at 679.53, with virtually all commodities higher on the lower greenback. WTI crude oil closed up 0.9% at $103.64/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 1.22% at $121.65/barrel. Gold settled up 1.2% today, at $1,680.60/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 181 points to 12,986.43 (1.41%), the NASDAQ rose more than 39 points (1.3%) to 3,055.55, and the S&P 500 rose 1.38% or nearly 19 points to 1,387.57.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) raised to ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan; Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) started as ‘neutral’ at SunTrust Robinson Humphreys; Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) cut to ‘hold’ at SocGen; Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) started as ‘buy’ at SunTrust Robinson Humphreys; and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) reiterated as ‘buy’ and target price raised to $480 at Argus.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Fastenal Corp. (NASDAQ: FAST) is down -1.8% at $48.73; Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) is up 0.03% at $1.71; Mission West Properties Inc. (NASDAQ: MSW) is down -0.06% at $9.55; and Commerce Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ: CBSH) is up 2.2% at $40.00. After the markets close today we will hear from Google (earnings preview here), J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT), and Cherokee Inc. (NASDAQ: CHKE) among others. Before the markets open tomorrow morning we get earnings from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) (more coverage here).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Oaktree Capital Group LLC (NYSE: OAK) is down about -1.3% at $42.43. The investment management firm held its IPO today. More coverage here.

MIPS Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: MIPS) is up about 27.5% at $6.64. The chip maker is reportedly seeking a buyer. More coverage here.

Eldorado Gold Corp. (NYSE: EGO) is up about 12.5% at $14.45. The junior gold miner announced plans to double production in five years.

Avid Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: AVID) is down more than -17% at $8.51. The media tools company announced that it would have an operating loss in the first quarter.

Stay tuned for Friday. New York Fed President William Dudley and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke are giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

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

Paul Ausick

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