The three major US stock indexes opened higher this morning in advance of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s semi-annual report to Congress and following some data on inflation (more coverage here), industrial production, and the housing market (more coverage here). Bernanke’s comments were pretty much inline with expectations, but investors were hoping for a more upbeat presentation than they got (our coverage here).
The US dollar index fell slightly today, now down -0.03% at 83.075. The GSCI commodity index rose about 1.5% to 6121.19, with commodities prices mostly lower today. Even corn prices fell as drought news got worse (our coverage here). WTI crude oil rose 0.9% today, closing at $89.22/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.5% at $103.85/barrel. Natural gas is down -0.11% today to $2.798/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,589.50/ounce, down -0.1%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 77 points to 12,804.41 (0.61%), the NASDAQ rose more than 13 points (0.45%) to 2,910.04, and the S&P 500 rose 0.74% or 10 points to 1,363.64.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) cut to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies; The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) cut to ‘neutral’ at Janney; Melco Crown PBL (NASDAQ: MPEL) started as ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital; Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) cut to ‘underweight’ at JPMorgan; and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), started as ‘buy’ at Lazard.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT) is down -5.8% at $54.96; Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) is up 3.4% at $31.87; Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) is up 0.7% at $98.36 (more coverage here); Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: FRX) is up 1.7% at $35.79 (more coverage here); Host Hotels and Resorts Inc. (NYSE: HST) is up 0.5% at $15.46; Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) is down -0.3% at $68.65; Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is up 0.9% at $69.03 after posting a new 52-week high of $69.18 earlier today (more coverage here); Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) is up 5.1% at $58.18 (more coverage here); The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) is up 1.5% at $77.63 (more coverage here); and State Street Corp. (NYSE: STT) is down -6.5% at $41.28.
Before markets open on Wednesday we are scheduled to get earnings results from Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK), Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON), and W.W. Grainger Inc. (NYSE: GWW).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
CSR plc (NASDAQ: CSRE) is up 29.8% at $17.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $18.23 earlier today. The chip maker is being acquired by Samsung Electronics for $310 million.
Lime Energy Co. (NASDAQ: LIME) is down -46.3% at $1.09 after posting a new 52-week low of $0.83 earlier today. The clean energy company may have to cut reported revenue for the past two fiscal years by as much as $15 million.
New Oriental Education & Technology Group (NYSE: EDU) is down -37.2% at $13.98 after posting a new 52-week low of $13.86 earlier today. The language and test training company announced an SEC investigation into the company’s accounting practices.
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. – Housing starts
- 10:00 a.m. – Fed Chairman Bernanke appears before House Financial Services Committee
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 2:00 p.m. – Beige Book released