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The major US stock indexes opened slightly lower this morning and continued drifting lower all day. The Chicago PMI report got the day started on the wrong foot, showing a decline in spending even though personal income rose in March (our coverage here). Spain’s slip into recession did not help (our coverage here) and a report on global unemployment doesn’t offer much hope for economic expansion (our coverage here). The US dollar index rose slightly today, now up 0.05% at 78.780. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.35% at 684.45, with commodities mixed. Cocoa and orange juice posted sharp declines today. WTI crude oil closed down -0.1% at $104.87/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -0.24% at $119.54/barrel. Gold settled down less than -0.1% today, at $1,664.20/ounce, and an overall loss for the month of April of -0.5%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 15 points to 13,213.63 (-0.11%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 23 points (-0.74%) to 3,046.36, and the S&P 500 fell -0.39% or more than 5 points to 1,397.91.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Demand Media Inc. (NYSE: DMD) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Evercore; TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP) cut to ‘hold’ at Desjardins; American Railcar Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: ARII) raised to ‘neutral’ at UBS; Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) raised to ‘outperform’ at BMO Capital; Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) raised to ‘overweight’ at JPMorgan; Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) raised to ‘strong buy’ at Raymond James; and Kaiser Aluminum Corp. (NASDAQ: KALU) raised to ‘buy’ at Dahlman Rose.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) is up 10.8% at $3.28 (our coverage here); Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is down -8.4% at $80.49; Senior Housing Properties Trust (NYSE: SNH) is up 0.32% at $22.09; and Sohu.com Inc. (NASDAQ: SOHU) is down -7.4% at $51.62.

Tomorrow we get earnings from Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI), Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM), Bankrate Inc. (NASDAQ: RATE), Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM), Chesapeake Energy Corp., Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ); Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP); Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE); Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI); and Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) is up about 54% at $21.07 after posting a new 52-week high of $26.00 earlier today. The company has created a joint venture with Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). More coverage here.

Sunoco Inc. (NYSE: SUN) is up 19.5% at $48.89 after posting a new 52-week high of $49.50 earlier today. The company is merging with Energy Transfer Partners L.P. in a deal worth about $5.3 billion. More coverage here.

VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) is down -12.7% at $47.52. The company’s stock was downgraded at Deutsche Bank, along with comments that the company was inflating its organic growth estimates.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota, San Francisco Fed President John Williams, and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser are all giving speeches. Motor vehicle sales are expected to be reported throughout the day. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Construction spending
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4- and 52-week bill auctions

Paul Ausick