Market Slides on Central Banks’ Inaction

The three major US stock indexes opened lower this morning as the Bank of England left interest rates alone (our coverage here) and the European Central Bank (ECB) did the same (our coverage here and here). The lack of any concrete action by either the British or the Eurozone to deal with the European financial debacle weighed markets down all day. The US report on factory orders was lower than expected (our coverage here), though retail sales were better than expected (our coverage here). But tomorrow’s report on US non-farm payrolls, which is expected to show a gain of about 100,000 jobs, could put some life back into the markets.

The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.33% at 83.328. The GSCI commodity index rose by about 0.3% to 637.61, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil fell -2% today, closing at $87.13/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.04% at $106.00/barrel. Natural gas is down -7.7% today to $2.927/thousand cubic feet, following a larger-than-expected addition to inventories (our coverage here). Gold settled at $1,590.70/ounce, down -1% for the day.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 91 points to 12,879.86 (-0.70%), the NASDAQ fell more than 10 points (-0.36%) to 2,909.77, and the S&P 500 fell -0.74% or about 10 points to 1,365.01.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Knight Capital Group (NYSE: KCG) cut to ‘market perform’ at Raymond James (more coverage here); Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) cut to ‘hold’ at Dahlman Rose; Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank; and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) cut to ‘neutral’ at Baird and to ‘overweight’ at Piper Jaffray.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Atlas Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: APL) is up 0.3% at $33.10; Avis Budget Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CAR) is up 9.4% at $15.42; CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE: CVI) is down -2.9% at $27.37; First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is up 23.2% at $18.24 (more coverage here); General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP) is up 1.6% at $18.50 after posting a new 52-week high of $18.70 earlier today; GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) is down -3.1% at $4.76; Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ONXX) is down -0.4% at $72.86; Seaspan Corp. (NYSE: SSW) is up 0.6% at $15.68; American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) is up 21.7% at $4.31 (more coverage here); Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) is -5% at $82.53 (more coverage here); Beam Inc. (NYSE: BEAM) is down -1% at $60.92; Boise Inc. (NYSE: BZ) is up 4.4% at $7.35; Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) is down -0.4% at $67.25; Lear Corp. (NYSE: LEA) is up 1.9% at $36.40; Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW) is down -14.8% at $6.06 after posting a new 52-week low of $5.72 earlier today; and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is up 3.1% at $88.29 after posting a new 52-week high of $88.77 earlier today.

After markets close today we are set to hear from Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK), Body Central Corp. (NASDAQ: BODY), CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: KOG), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), and Westport Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT).

Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to get earnings results from Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU), Beazer USA Homes Inc. (NYSE: BZH), NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX), Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB), and Wellcare Health Plans Inc. (NYSE: WCG) among others.

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE: KCG) is down -62.4% at $2.61 after posting a new 52-week low of $2.27 earlier today. The financial services company is collapsing. More coverage here.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is up 28.8% at $23.07. The specialty coffee supplier lowered estimates last night, but the share price jumped today on valuation.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is up 23.2% at $18.24. The solar PV maker’s earnings have raised all solar boats today. More coverage here and here.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Non-farm payrolls
  • 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management (ISM) non-manufacturing index

Paul Ausick

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