The three major US stock indexes opened lower this morning even though China’s central bank lowered interest rates (our coverage here), the Bank of England boosted its asset purchase program and the European Central Bank cut its interest rates (more coverage here). New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week and the ADP non-farm payroll report showed a larger-than-expected gain in June (our coverage here). The data dump continued with the ISM non-manufacturing PMI report, which came in lower than expected (our coverage here) and US retailers reported weaker-than-expected same-store sales (more coverage here).
The US dollar index rose sharply today, now up 1.27% at 82.822. The GSCI commodity index also rose sharply, up 3.3% at 618.00, with commodities prices uniformly higher today. WTI crude oil has slipped -0.5% today, trading at $87.22/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.61% at $100.38/barrel. Natural gas is up 1.55% today to $2.94/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down -0.8%, at $1,609.40/ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 46 points to 12,897.50 (-0.36%), the NASDAQ rose less than 1 point (0.00%) to 2,976.12, and the S&P 500 fell -0.47% or more than 6 points to 1,367.60.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD) cut to ‘neutral’ at Miller Tabak; Veolia Environment (NYSE: VE) cut to ‘sell’ at UBS; ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT) cut to ‘neutral’ with a target price of $18.30 at HSBC; Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (NYSE: POT) cut to ‘market perform’ on a valuation call at Fraser Mackenzie; and The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) raised to ‘outperform’ with a target price of $17.00 at BMO Capital.
There were no earnings reports of note today, and none are scheduled for tomorrow. On Monday, the new earnings season kicks off when Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) reports results after the markets close.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Patriot Coal Corp. (NYSE: PCX) is up 22.3% at $2.25. The coal miner is up sharply on Tuesday’s reports of increased demand for coal in Europe, and — very likely — some serious short covering. More coverage here.
Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is up 13.7% at $81.94. The video rental company’s CEO said that the company streamed more than 1 billion hours of video in June, its highest total ever. More coverage here.
MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE: MTG) is down -9.1% at $2.80. The mortgage insurer had no news today, but led peers Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE: GNW) and Radian Broup Inc. (NYSE: RDN) lower as the financial sector lost about -1% today.
Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm payrolls report
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS