24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- July 16, 2012: Market Takes Small Loss, Waits on Bernanke

The three major US stock indexes opened lower this morning following some lackluster data on the US economy. The Empire State manufacturing data improved, but retail sales posted an unexpected decline (our coverage here). Later in the morning data on business inventories also came in weak (our coverage here). Asian and European markets didn’t have much impact on US markets today, with both rather mixed. It appears that investors are waiting to hear what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has to say tomorrow in his report to Congress.

The US dollar index fell today, now down -0.30% at 83.103. The GSCI commodity index rose about 1% to 6121.19, with commodities prices mostly higher today as the US drought continues (our coverage here). WTI crude oil rose 1.5% today, closing at $88.43/barrel. Brent crude trades up 1.8% at $103.20/barrel. Natural gas is down -2.6% today to $2.798/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,591.60/ounce, down less than -0.1%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 50 points to 12,727.21 (-0.39%), the NASDAQ fell more than 11 points (-0.40%) to 2,896.94, and the S&P 500 fell -0.23% or more than 3 points to 1,353.63.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) cut to ‘equal-weight’ at Morgan Stanley; Supervalu Inc. (NYSE: SVU) raised to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) started as ‘outperform’ at Oppenheimer; Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) cut to ‘market perform’ at Bernstein; and Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) raised to ‘hold’ at SocGen.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) is up 0.5% at $26.77 (more coverage here); and Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is up 1.9% at $14.58. After markets close today we are scheduled to hear from J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT), Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE: RHI), and Joe’s Jeans Inc. (NASDAQ: JOEZ).

Before markets open on Tuesday we are scheduled to get earnings results from Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: FRX), Host Hotels and Resorts Inc. (NYSE: HST), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS), The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), and State Street Corp. (NYSE: STT).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Par Pharmaceutical Companies Inc. (NYSE: PRX) is up 36.7% at $50.00 after posting a 52-week high of $52.22 earlier today. The drug company has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm TPG.

Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) is up 4.5% at $14.19. The drug maker is being acquired by GlaxoSmithKlein (NYSE: GSK). We have a report on other possible tie-ups in the drug business here.

BioFuel Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: BIOF) is up 20.1% at $2.99. The ethanol maker had no news today and the rise in ethanol stocks may seem counter-intuitive. More coverage here.

Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: ANR) is down -9.6% at $6.90 after posting a new 52-week low of $6.56 earlier today. The coal miner was the hardest hit stock in the industry today on comments from Wilbur Ross on the difficulties that lie ahead for the coal industry. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Consumer price index
  • 9:00 a.m. – TIC data
  • 9:15 a.m. – Industrial production
  • 10:00 a.m. – Housing market index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Fed Chairman Bernanke appears before Senate Banking Committee
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction

Paul Ausick

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