The major US stock indexes opened mostly flat this morning following a softer-than-expected report from the Institute for Supply Management on non-manufacturing growth (our coverage here). The report on new unemployment benefits claims came in better than expected, but not enough to overcome the ISM numbers (more coverage here). Retail sales reports were also weak, with growth of just 0.8% compared with an estimate of 1.5% (more coverage here). The energy sector has been particularly hard hit today on reports that supply is keeping up with demand, some weak earnings reports, and a comment from OPEC that it would like to see Brent crude at $100/barrel, not $120 or more (our coverage here).

The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.11% at 79.221. The GSCI commodity index is down about -1.3% at 678.65, with commodities mixed on the small gains in the dollar. WTI crude oil closed down -2.6% at $102.54/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -1.84% at $116.02/barrel. Gold settled down -1.2% today, at $1,634.80/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 62 points to 13,206.59 (-0.47%), the NASDAQ fell more than 35 points (-01.16%) to 3,024.30, and the S&P 500 fell -0.77% or nearly 11 points to 1,391.57.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) maintained as ‘buy’ but target price cut to $31 at BofA/ML and raised to ‘outperform’ at Bernstein; Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) reiterated ‘buy’ at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and cut to ‘neutral’ at Piper Jaffary; Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) reiterated as ‘buy’ at BofA/ML; and (NYSE: CRM) raised to ‘outperform’ with a $185 target price 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: Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE: DSX) is down -4.4% at $7.63; Corinthian Colleges Inc. (NASDAQ: COCO) is down -21.6% at $3.05; Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) is down -3.7% at $91.99; Western Refining Inc. (NYSE: WNR) is down -2.6% at $18.42; YRC Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: YRCW) is down -8% at $6.79; Steve Madden Ltd. (NASDAQ: SHOO) is down -1.7% at $43.54; Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) is up 0.6% at $64.29 after posting a new 52-week high of $65.37 earlier today; Sara Lee Corp. (NYSE: SLE) is down -1% at $22.10; Royal Gold Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLD) is down -2.6% at $59.43 (more coverage here); Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: OWW) is up 4.9% at $4.09; General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is down -2.3% at $22.42 (more coverage here); and MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is down -4.4% at $12.95.

Tomorrow we get earnings from AES Corp. (NYSE: AES), Cheniere Energy Inc. (AMEX: LNG), Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK), Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL), Progressive Corp. (NYSE: PGR), and The Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is down -47.3% at $26.11. The company reported earnings last night, and lowered guidance. More coverage here and here.

Kensey Nash Corp. (NASDAQ: KNSY) is up 32.2% at $38.35. The company is being acquired by a Dutch firm for $360 million. More coverage here.

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) is down -12.7% at $46.02. The nutrition products company flubbed some questions at last night’s conference call. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Friday. San Francisco Fed President John Williams is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm payrolls
  • 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS

Paul Ausick

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