The three major US stock indexes opened mixed this morning following a wealth of data on the Chinese economy. The short version is that the economy is slowing so much and inflation is so low that the government just has to provide some stimulus (more coverage here). In Europe, Italy’s trade balance was not as bad as expected. The US report on new claims for unemployment benefits came in better than expected, which boosted equities a bit before the open (more coverage here), and the US trade deficit was not as large as expected (more coverage here).
The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.32% at 82.659. The GSCI commodity index rose fractionally to 658.72, with commodities prices mixed today. Corn hit an all-time high of $8.27/bushel before pulling back a little. WTI crude oil was essentially flat today, closing at $93.36/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.95% at $113.20/barrel. Natural gas is down -0.14% today to $2.929/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,620.20/ounce, up 0.3% for the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 10 points to 13,165.19 (-0.08%), the NASDAQ rose more than 7 points (0.25%) to 3,018.64, and the S&P 500 rose 0.04% or less than 1 point to 1,402.79.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) raised to ‘Conviction Buy List’ at Goldman Sachs and raised to ‘overweight’ at Piper Jaffray (more coverage here); Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) started as ‘buy’ at Lazard; Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) cut to ‘underweight’ at JPMorgan; Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) started as ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus; and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (NASDAQ: MPEL) started as ‘underperform’ at Jefferies.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) is down -5.8% at $16.00; CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is up 1.4% at $42.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $43.43 earlier today; Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR) is up 3.6% at $72.04; Education Management Corp. (NASDAQ: EDMC) is down -20.8% at $3.16; Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) is down -0.35% at $25.97 (more coverage here); Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) is up 2.7% at $8.04 (more coverage here); Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) is down -9.7% at $61.23; Yamana Gold Inc. (NYSE: AUY) is up 2.3% at $15.43; Advance Auto Parts Inc. (NYSE: AAP) is down -3% at $68.43; AMC Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: AMCX) is up 0.9% at $43.71; Clean Diesel Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: CDTI) is down -2.3% at $2.38; Hillshire Brands Co. (NYSE: HSH) is up 2.9% at $25.88; James River Coal Co. (NASDAQ: JRCC) is up 16.1% at $2.59; Royal Gold Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLD) is down -2.3% at $76.95; and The Wendy’s Co. (NASDAQ: WEN) is up 0.6% at $4.56.
Before markets open on Friday we are scheduled to get earnings results from J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Robbins & Myers Inc. (NYSE: RBN) is up 27.3% at $59.58. The previous high was $53.50. The oil field drilling equipment maker is being acquired by National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NYSE: NOV) for $2.5 billion, or $60/share.
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: MDRX) is up 18% at $11.34. The medical records software company raised quarterly profit estimate.
Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Import and export prices
- 2:00 p.m. – Treasury budget