24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- August 27, 2012: Markets Lack Enthusiasm, Close Mixed (AMZN, BRCD, LLY, ADSK, THS, TIF, SDRL, STP, BWS, MY, MOV, SFM, HCBK, MTB, KNXA, IBM, PANL, AAPL)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened flat to higher this morning but picked up some buying steam after the first hour or so of trading. In Europe the president of Germany’s Bundesbank said again that the ECB’s plan to buy bonds may be illegal. There was little data out today in Europe. In Asia, China’s premier said that the country needs policies that will boost exports if China is going to meet annual targets. US markets got something of a boost from a storm of acquisition-related news (our coverage here) and both the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 posted some solid gains beginning in the late morning. The DJIA struggled along the flat line all day.

The US dollar index rose today, now up 0.03% at 81.615. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.5% today at 670.51, with commodities prices mostly lower and corn dropping to around $8.00/bushel. WTI crude oil finished down 0.7% today, closing at $95.47/barrel. Brent crude trades down 1.12%% at $112.32/barrel. Natural gas is down 1.74% today to $2.655/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,675.60/ounce, up 0.2% as traders await word on another round of easing from the Fed.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 33 points to 13,124.83 (-0.25%), the NASDAQ rose more than 3 points (0.11%) to 3,073.19, and the S&P 500 fell -0.05% or less than 1 point to 1,410.44.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including (NASDAQ: AMZN) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a $264 target price at BofA/ML; Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BRCD) maintained as ‘buy’ with a $7 target price at BofA/ML; Eli Lilly Co. (NYSE: LLY) raised to ‘outperform’ with a $53 target price at Credit Suisse; Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; and Treehouse Foods Inc. (NYSE: THS) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup.

There were only two earnings report of note since markets closed on Friday. Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) is up 7.9% at $63.10, even though the company lowered its third quarter forecast. It also lowered its full-year EPS forecast from $3.70-$3.80 to $3.55-$3.70, but analysts had already pegged EPS at $3.63. SeaDrill Ltd. (NYSE: SDRL) is also up 0.6% at $41.38.

Earnings releases scheduled before markets open tomorrow morning include Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP), Brown Shoe Co. Inc. (NYSE: BWS), China Ming Yang Wind Power Group Ltd. (NYSE: MY), Movado Group Inc. (NYSE: MOV), and Sanderson Farms Inc. (NASDAQ: SAFM).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Hudson City Bancorp Inc. (NYSE: HCBK) is up 15.6% at $7.45. The company has agreed to be acquired by M&T Bank Corp. (NYSE: MTB) for $3.7 billion ($7.22/share). More coverage here.

Kenexa Corp. (NYSE: KNXA) is up 41.3% at $45.78 after posting a new 52-week high of $45.93 earlier today. The business software company is being acquired by International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) for $1.3 billion ($46/share). More coverage here.

Universal Display Corp. (NASDAQ: PANL) is down 8.1% at $39.26. The OLED display maker is a supplier to Samsung Electrons and suffers from being collateral damage following the recent court verdict favoring Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). More coverage here.

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

  • 9:00 a.m. – S&P Case-Shiller house price index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Conference Board consumer confidence index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Richmond Fed manufacturing index
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill and 2-year note auctions

Paul Ausick

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