The three major U.S. stock indexes opened lower this morning but picked up some buying steam in the first hour or so of trading. The morning’s report on durable goods sales looked good until aircraft sales were excluded (our coverage here). German chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted Greece to stay in the euro (our coverage here) and that coupled with reports of a letter from Fed chairman Bernanke to a member of Congress (our coverage here) gave stocks a mid-morning boost that carried shares higher for the rest of the day.
The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.2% at 81.524. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.4% today at 674.13, with commodities prices mixed and corn dropping to around $8.10/bushel. WTI crude oil finished down 0.1% today, closing at $96.15/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.03% at $114.95/barrel. Natural gas is up 0.4% today to $2.81/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,672.890/ounce, up fractionally for its best level since mid-April.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 100 points to 13,157.97 (0.77%), the NASDAQ rose more than 16 points (0.54%) to 3,069.79, and the S&P 500 rose 0.64% or about 9 points to 1,411.12.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/ML; Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) started as ‘overweight’ at Barclays; Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) cut to ‘hold’ at S&P Capital IQ; Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; and Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have led to some price changes as of the last half hour of trading today: Aruba Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: ARUN) is up 14.7% at $19.41; bebe Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BEBE) is down 1.7% at $5.37 after posting a new 52-week low of $5.25 earlier today; Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) is up 1.1% at $148.37 (our coverage here); Shoe Carnival Inc. (NASDAQ: SCVL) is down 8% at $22.44; ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) is down 15.6% at $1.51; and The Madison Square Garden Co. (NYSE: MSG) is up 3.3% at $41.58 after posting a new high of $44.67 earlier today.
Earnings releases scheduled before Monday’s open include Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) and a host of foreign stocks.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Medgenics Inc. (NYSEMKT: MDGN) is up 18% at $12.80. The drugmaker is reaping the benefit of competitors missteps in trials of a hepatitis C treatment.
Stay tuned for Monday. Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans are giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!