24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- August 1, 2012: Markets Lose Small Gains after FOMC Minutes

The three major US stock indexes opened higher this morning as markets were getting primed for the afternoon’s statement from the FOMC. Tomorrow’s announcement on interest rates from the European Central Bank now takes center stage. China’s PMI report came in weaker than expected (our report here), but Asian markets finished higher, probably hoping that the weaker PMI would lead to more Chinese government stimulus. US and European PMI readings were mixed, with the Eurozone revised up, while both Germany and France posted downward revisions (more coverage here). When the FOMC minutes were finally released, markets responded by dropping sharply on the lack of stronger hints for more stimulus (our coverage here).

The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.46% at 83.013. The GSCI commodity index fell by about -1.3% to 635.82, with commodities prices mostly lower again today. WTI crude oil rose 1% today, closing at $88.91/barrel, following the EIA’s weekly petroleum status report (our coverage here). Brent crude trades up 0.74% at $105.70/barrel. Natural gas is down -1.18% today to $3.171/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,603.70/ounce, down -0.4% for the day.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 31 points to 12,977.42 (-0.24%), the NASDAQ fell more than 19 points (-0.66%) to 2,920.21, and the S&P 500 fell 0.29% or nearly 4 points to 1,375.37.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) raised to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank; JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) cut to ‘sell’ at Dahlman Rose; Discovery Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: DISCA) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup; BP plc (NYSE: BP) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies; and Tech Data Corp. (NASDAQ: TECD) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/ML.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) is up 5.4% at $11.61 (more coverage here); Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) is up 7.3% at $36.80 after posting a new 52-week high of $36.99 earlier today; Edison International Inc. (NYSE: EIX) is down -2.6% at $44.99; FMC Corp. (NYSE: FMC) is down -3.2% at $52.97; Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) is down -9.7% at $7.93 after posting a new 52-week low of $7.92 (our coverage here); WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) is down -2% at $14.41; Allergan Inc. (NYSE: AGN) is up 4.7% at $85.91; Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW) is down -0.8% at $15.20; CNH Global NV (NYSE: CNH) is up 0.2% at $38.19; Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) is down -3.5% at $57.07; Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) is down -2% at $38.34; and Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) is down -2.4% at $42.18.

After markets close today we are set to hear from Atlas Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: APL), Avis Budget Group Inc. (NYSE: CAR), CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE: CVI), First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP), GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT), Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ONXX), and Seaspan Corp. (NYSE: SSW).

Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to get earnings results from American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC), Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA), Beam Inc. (NYSE: BEAM), Boise Inc. (NYSE: BZ), Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK), Lear Corp. (NYSE: LEA), Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW), and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Silicon Image Inc. (NASDAQ: SIMG) is up 26% at $4.94. The semiconductor company beat estimates last night and is positioned for growth with Samsung’s hot-selling Galaxy phones.

Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE: KCG) is down -28.5% at $7.39 after posting a new 52-week low of $7.20 earlier today. The financial services company has admitted to some trading errors. More coverage here.

Frontier Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: FTR) is up 11.7% at $4.38. The telecom provider reported better-than-expected earnings last night — and pays a very rich dividend yield. More coverage here.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is down -3.5% at $20.95 after posting a new post-IPO low of $20.87 earlier today. The social networking company had no news today, but some investors are jumping ship before the locked-up shares hit the market later this month.

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

  • 7:30 a.m. – Challenger job-cut report
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:00 a.m. – Factory orders
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.