Markets opened higher this morning, led by the Nasdaq which got a big boost from the strong report last night from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The report from the US Census Bureau on durable goods orders showed a decline in new orders (our coverage here), but Apple’s strength overcame that news. The EIA report on crude oil inventories showed a larger than expected gain this week, holding crude prices in check (our coverage here). The FOMC announcement held no surprises, with the committee indicating that it expects interest rates to remain very low through late 2014 (our coverage here). The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.18% at 79.083. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 674.83, with commodities mixed on the slightly weaker dollar. WTI crude oil closed up 0.6% at $104.12/barrel, and Brent crude trades up 0.74% at $1119.03/barrel. Gold settled down -0.1% today, at $1,642.30/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 89 points to 13,090.95 (0.69%), the NASDAQ rose more than 68 points (2.3%) to 3,029.63, and the S&P 500 rose 1.37% or nearly 19 points to 1,390.70.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple raised to ‘outperform’ at Scotia and maintained ‘buy’ with a target price of $775 at Canaccord Genuity; J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) raised to ‘market perform’ at BMO; McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) started as ‘buy’ at Citigroup; Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; and Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ: BWLD) raised to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Apple is up 8.9% at $610.02 (our coverage here); Anixter International Inc. (NYSE: AXE) is down -4% at $66.76; Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) is up 11.5% at $81.74; Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is down -4% at $20.78; Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) is up 3.6% at $72.77; Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE: NFX) is up 5.2% at $35.47; AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) is down -0.9% at $33.27; Clayton Williams Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: CWEI) is up 1.6% at $76.45; Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) is up 6.7% at $14.25; Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) is up 6.1% at $53.45 after posting a new 52-week high of $53.98 earlier today; Lithia Motors Inc. (NYSE: LAD) is up 7.4% at $26.84; and US Airways Group Inc. (NYSE: LCC) is up 2.5% at $9.55 (more coverage here).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is down -4.5% at $103.55. The heavy equipment maker reported declining sales in China as growth in the country has slowed, which led to the sell-off today.

CNH Global NV (NYSE: CNH) is up 3.6% at $45.66. The farm equipment maker beat EPS estimates by almost 50% and sales were also higher.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) is up 5.3% at $77.06. The aircraft maker reported solid earnings and revenues this morning. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – New unemployment benefits claims
  • 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Pending home sales index
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
  • 1:00 p.m. – 7-year note auction
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.