24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- May 22, 2012 (GPS, DRYS, DPZ, LYB, TSLA, AZO, BBY, RL, WSM, EXPR, AEO, BIG, HRL, NTAP, P, STP, TSL, PCX, BNHN, FB)

The three major US stock indexes opened slightly higher this morning following their European and Asian counterparts, none of which were the least concerned about a downgrade to Japanese debt or dire predictions from the OECD and the IMF (our coverage here and here). Existing US home sales were slightly above the consensus estimate, which also helped buoy stocks this morning (our coverage here

). The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.52% at 81.509. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 633.25, with commodities mostly lower on the stronger dollar. Corn and cotton were today’s big losers. WTI crude oil closed down -1% at $91.66/barrel, and Brent crude trades down -0.62% at $108.13/barrel. Natural gas rose more than 3% today at $2.69/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down -0.8% today, at $1,576.60/ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 2 points to 12,502.66 (-0.01%), the NASDAQ fell about 8 points (-.029%) to 2,839.08, and the S&P 500 rose 0.05% or less than 1 point to 1,316.63.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) raised to ‘buy’ at Lazard Capital; DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) started as ‘buy’ at Global Hunter; Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $46 at Argus; LyondellBasell Industries (NYSE: LYB) started as ‘outperform’ with a target price of $60 at Credit Suisse; and Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) started as ‘buy’ at Maxim Group.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Autozone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) is down -1.67% at $362.40; Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) is up 1.3% at $18.41 (more coverage here); Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) is up 3.4% at $151.24 (more coverage here); Williams Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM) is up 3.4% at $35.90; and Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR) is down -26.9% at $16.88.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to get earnings reports from American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO), Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG), Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL), NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP), Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P), Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP), and Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL).

Other standouts from today include the following stocks:

Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) is down nearly -40% at $2.22 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.36 earlier today. The coal miner was reported to be interviewing firms to help with a restructuring. Patriot issued a non-denial denial later to stem the bleeding. More coverage here and here.

Benihana Inc. (NASDAQ: BNHN) is up 21.3% at $16.13. The restaurateur is being acquired for $296 million.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is down -8.6%% at $31.12 after posting a new low of $30.98 earlier today. Shares are getting pummeled again today. We’ve started a deathwatch here and here. Just search for ‘facebook deathwatch’ to get the latest dope.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
10:00 a.m. – New home sales
10:00 a.m. – FHFA house price index
10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
1:00 p.m. – 5-year note auction

Paul Ausick