The major US stock indexes opened sharply lower again this morning as investors consider Greece’s commitment to the austerity measures it had previously agreed to. Renegotiating the deal seems out of the question (more coverage here) and there is even the threat that the EU will not pay the first tranche of the bailout deal when it is due tomorrow (more coverage here). US oil inventories rose last week, putting more pressure on prices today (more coverage here).The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.43% at 80.077. The GSCI commodity index is down -0.5% at 648.60, with commodities mixed on the stronger dollar. WTI crude oil closed down -0.5% at $96.71/barrel and Brent crude trades up 0.02% at $112.75/barrel. Gold settled down -0.6% today, at $1,594.20/ounce, the yellow metal’s first sub-$1,600/ounce closing since December.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 97 points to 12,835.44 (-0.75%), the NASDAQ fell more than11 points (-0.39%) to 2,934.71, and the S&P 500 fell 0.67% or more than 9 points to 1,354.61.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) resumed as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; The Hershey Co. (NYSE: HSY) raised to ‘buy’ at Argus; Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) started as ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse; and Demand Media Inc. (NYSE: DMD) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is up 3.8% at $26.55; Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU) is down -2.2% at $82.69 (more coverage here); Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. (NYSE: DTG) is up 0.2% at $80.68; Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) is down -3.6% at $38.07 (more coverage here); Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (NASDAQ: MPEL) is down -0.2% at $13.96; Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is up 3.1% at $80.58; and SodaStream International Ltd. (NASDAQ: SODA) is up 28% at $37.35.

On Wednesday we are scheduled to get earnings from AMC Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: AMCX), ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT), Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP); Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN); Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN); Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: HNR); Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS); and Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Cost Plus Inc. (NASDAQ: CPWM) is up 21.9% at $21.92 after posting a new 52-week high earlier today. The company is being acquired by Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) for $495 million.

Amyris Inc. (NASDAQ: AMRS) is down -21.7% at $1.98 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.89 earlier today. The biofuels and biotech company posted much higher-than-expected shortfalls in both EPS and revenues.

Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI) is up 10.1% at $8.37. The coal miner had no news today, but investors are piling in at a very low price. Volume today topped 25 million shares, more than double Arch’s daily average.

Stay tuned for Thursday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota are giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – International trade report
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 30-year note auction
  • 2:00 p.m. – Treasury budget
  • 4:30 p.m. – Federal Reserve balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

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