The three major US stock indexes opened slightly higher this morning as markets didn’t get any more bad news from Europe and got some good news on housing prices from the S&P Case-Shiller housing price index (our coverage here). But separate reports on a continuing decline in consumer confidence pushed equities into negative territory, which they were not able to escape until after noon. Following a mid-afternoon downgrade of German sovereign debt to ‘A+’ at Egan Jones (our coverage here), stocks moved down again, but remained in positive territory with every sector posting some gain.
The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.13% at 82.389. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.6% at 567.60, with commodities prices mixed today. Corn is up about 4.4% on a reduced crop outlook due to weather (more coverage here). WTI crude oil closed up 0.2% at $79.36/barrel. Brent crude trades up 2.19% at $93.00/barrel. Natural gas rose about 2.7% today to $2.77/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down -0.9%, at $1,574.90/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 32 points to 12,534.67 (0.26%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 18 points (0.63%) to 2,854.06, and the S&P 500 rose 0.48% or more than 6 points to 1,319.99.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) started as ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee; JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) raised to ‘Conviction Buy List’ at Goldman Sachs; and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) cut to ‘neutral’ from ‘Conviction Buy List’ at Goldman Sachs.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have been scarce, but here are some price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today: Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) is up 11% at $36.04; Synnex Corp. (NYSE: SNX) is up 1.6% at $33.58; LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) is down -6.4% at $1.89 (more coverage here). After markets close today and before they re-open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Sealy Corp. (NYSE: ZZ), Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON), and UniFirst Corp. (NYSE: UNF).
Other standouts from today include the following stocks:
News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS) is up 8.3% at $21.97 after posting a new 52-week high of $22.10 earlier today. The media giant is considering to split itself into two pieces.
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is down -5.2% at $5.75. The social networking game company introduced several new games this afternoon that were not what analysts were looking for.
Supernus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SUPN) is up 96.2% at $11.20 after posting a new 52-week high of $15.00 earlier today. The drug maker received tentative approval for the company’s once-a-day version of its epilepsy drug.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
- 10:00 a.m. – Pending home sales index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 1:00 p.m. – 5-year note auction