24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- May 17, 2012

The three major US stock indexes opened essentially flat this morning as investors were faced with a flat report on new claims for jobless benefits (our coverage here). Manufacturing data from the Philadelphia Fed came in much lower than expected and the leading economic indicators also weighed the market down (more coverage here). The US dollar index rose slightly today, now up 0.03% at 81.398. The GSCI commodity index is down fractionally at 633.40, with commodities mostly higher again today. Wheat is the big gainer again today, while orange juice futures were down more than -6%. WTI crude oil closed down -0.3% at $92.56/barrel, and Brent crude trades down at -2% at $107.55/barrel. Gold settled up 2.5% today, at $1,574.90/ounce, ending a four-day losing streak.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down 156 points to 12,442.49 (-1.24%), the NASDAQ fell more than 60 points (-2.10%) to 2,813.69, and the S&P 500 fell -1.50% or nearly 20 points to 1,304,87.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) raised to ‘neutral’ at Sterne Agee; IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (NYSE: ICE) raised to ‘strong buy’ at Raymond James; SINA Corp. (NASDAQ: SINA) raised to ‘overweight’ at Barclays; Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) reiterated as ‘buy’ but removed from Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs; Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reiterated as ‘buy’ with target price of $96 at Argus.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) is down -7.3% at $4.09; Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) is down -5.6% at $95.60; E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NYSE: DANG) is down -16.6% at $6.25 (more coverage here); GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) is down -10.1% at $18.72 (more coverage here); Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) is up 3.9% at $52.84; and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is up 4.7% at $61.97 (more coverage here).

On Friday we are scheduled to get earnings from ANN Inc. (NYSE: ANN), Brown Shoe Co. Inc. (NYSE: BWS), JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO), Progressive Corp. (NYSE: PGR), and Footlocker Inc. (NYSE: FL).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Rosetta Genomics Ltd. (NASDAQ: ROSG) is down -17.7% at $4.11. The medical diagnostics firm priced a secondary offering this morning. More coverage here.

Dendreon Inc. (NASDAQ: DNDN) is down -11.3% at $7.65. The company’s prostate cancer drug got another challenge from a competing product from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). More coverage here.

MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (NYSE: WFR) is down -21.4% at $1.68 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.63. The solar component maker lost its CFO today. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Friday. We don’t have anything on the schedule for tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll have a quiet day.

Paul Ausick

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