24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- August 3, 2012: Market Jumps on Payroll Data

The three major US stock indexes opened about 1% higher this morning following the news that non-farm payrolls grew by a much larger-than-expected 163,000 (our coverage here). Once investors warmed up to the risk-on feeling, equities rose another 1% and have been pretty consistently up 2% since before noon. Asian markets were mixed this morning, with Shanghai up on expectations of some government stimulus and Japan down on some poor earnings reports. European markets were higher on strength in the financial stocks, the result of falling yields on Spanish and Italian bonds.

The US dollar index tumbled today, now down -1.18% at 82.375. The GSCI commodity index fell by about -1.1% to 630.33, with commodities prices higher today on the weaker dollar. WTI crude oil rose a whopping 4.9% today, closing at $91.40/barrel. Brent crude trades up 2.83% at $108.90/barrel. Natural gas is down -0.68% today to $2.90/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,609.30/ounce, up 1.2% for the day.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 217 points to 13,096.09 (1.69%), the NASDAQ rose about 58 points (2%) to 2,967.90, and the S&P 500 rose 1.9% or about 26 points to 1,390.99.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) cut to ‘neutral’ at Baird; Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE: MTG) cut to ‘market perform’ at FBR; and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) raised to ‘buy’ 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: Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) is down -4.9% at $11.19; American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK) is up 3.4% at $37.49 after posting a new 52-week high of $39.38 earlier today; Body Central Corp. (NASDAQ: BODY) is down -15.9% at $8.07 after posting a new 52-week low of $7.71 earlier today; CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) is up 5.8% at $34.97 after posting a new 52-week high of $35.17 earlier today; Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: KOG) is up 7.1% at $8.10 after posting a new 52-week high of $8.35 earlier today; Westport Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT) is up 12.8% at $39.00; Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU) is up 0.9% at $95.04 (more coverage here); Beazer USA Homes Inc. (NYSE: BZH) is down -2.6% at $2.25 (more coverage here); NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX) is up 1.3% at $24.89; Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB) is up 3.2% at $47.30 (more coverage here); and Wellcare Health Plans Inc. (NYSE: WCG) is down -11.5% at $55.21.

Before markets open on Monday we are scheduled to get earnings results from Alexander’s Inc. (NYSE: ALX), American States Water Co. (NYSE: AWR), Ltd. (NASDAQ: CYOU), FreightCar America Inc. (NASDAQ: RAIL), HCA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HCA), MakeMyTrip Ltd. (NASDAQ: MMYT), Inc. (NASDAQ: SOHU), and Youku Inc. (NYSE: YOKU) among others.

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE: KCG) is up 56.9% at $4.05. The financial services firm caught a couple of badly needed breaks today. More coverage here and here.

Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) is down -28% at $11.57 after posting a new 52-week low of $11.31 earlier today. The rare earths miner posted disappointing results last night, and offered a weak-sounding outlook. More coverage here.

Zipcar Inc. (NASDAQ: ZIP) is down -34.9% at $6.93 after posting a new 52-week low of $6.50 earlier today. The car rental firm posted weaker-than-expected earnings and revenues. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Monday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
  • 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS

Have a great weekend!

Paul Ausick

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