The three major US stock indexes opened higher this morning but by early afternoon all three had gotten stuck solidly in the red. The higher opening reflected little data and some new optimism about additional stimulus in China. Germany’s central bank continues to oppose ECB purchases of sovereign bonds, but that had no impact on the US open either. But as the day wore on, selling took over as prices rose on most commodities, energy, and precious metals. Given how things have turned out, you might not remember that the S&P 500 index posted a new 4-year high earlier today (our coverage here).
The US dollar index fell today, now down 0.72% at 81.865. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally today at 669.27, with commodities prices mostly higher. Soybeans rose sharply today on an expected decline in production (our coverage here). WTI crude oil finished up 0.7% today, closing at $96.68/barrel. Brent crude trades up 1% at $114.82/barrel. Natural gas is up 0.6% today to $2.793/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,642.90/ounce, up 1.2% to its highest level in more than 3 months.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 68 points to 13,203.50 (-0.51%), the NASDAQ fell almost 9 points (-0.29%) to 3,067.26, and the S&P 500 fell -0.35% or almost 5 points to 1,413.17.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) cut to ‘sell’ at Argus; ABB Ltd. (NYSE: ABB) cut to ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank; Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) raised to ‘average’ at Caris & Co.; Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) started as ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus; and Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) cut to ‘underweight’ at Barclays.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) is up 18.3% at $37.00 after posting a new 52-week high of $37.64 (more coverage here); Tech Data Corp. (NASDAQ: TECD) is down 6% at $49.03 (more coverage here); Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) is down 3% at $11.98 (more coverage here); and Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT) is down 0.7% at $41.16 after posting a new 52-week high of $41.79 earlier today (more coverage here).
Earnings releases are slowing down, but reports scheduled before tomorrow’s open include Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) (our preview here), Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU), Key Tronic Corp. (NASDAQ: KTCC), Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ: WTSLA), American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO), Chico’s FAS Inc. (NYSE: CHS), and Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) is down 2.7% at $17.67 after posting a new 52-week low of $16.23 earlier today. The consumer electronics retailer reported disappointing results this morning, but the stock has come back from down about 10%. More coverage here.
SuperMedia LLC (NASDAQ: SPMD) is up 41.5% at $3.65. The yellow pages publisher is merging with Dex One Corp. (NYSE: DEXO) in a stock-for-stock deal that will create a company with a market cap of more than $100 million. Dex One is also up sharply at $1.66, more than 33%.
ImmunoCellular Therapeutics Ltd. (NYSEMKT: IMUC) is down 20.6% at $2.31. The biotech firm’s CEO stepped down last night and is being replaced on an interim basis by the company’s founder and chairman.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans is giving a speech.We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 2:00 p.m. – FOMC minutes