24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- September 5, 2012: Markets on Hold for ECB Announcement (FDX, FB, TWX, CHK, RIO, BLMN, FNSR, PBY, DG, FCEL, HWD, KFY, PAY, LAYN, NAV, NOK, BONT, FRAN)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened flat to slightly lower again this morning even though word leaked out of the European Central Bank’s likely bond-buying scheme (our coverage here). Official word on any action the ECB may take is due tomorrow and will undoubtedly have a marked effect on equities and commodities, including gold. Data on Australian GDP and Chinese PMI sent Asian markets lower, while European markets were mixed. In the U.S., the mortgage applications report showed a slight drop compared with last week (our coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index is higher today, now down 0.11% at 81.224. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.3% today at 672.55, with commodities prices mostly lower and corn falling below $8.00/bushel again. WTI crude oil closed up 0.1% today, at $95.36/barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.78% at $113.29/barrel. Natural gas is down 2.1% today to $2.793/thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,694.00/ounce, down 0.1% today.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 11 points to 13,047.55 (0.09%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 6 points (0.19%) to 3,069.27, and the S&P 500 fell -0.11% or nearly 2 points to 1,403.43.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo (more coverage here); Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) started as ‘buy’ at Jefferies; Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) raised to ‘buy’ at UBS; Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) started as ‘equalweight’ at Barclays; and Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RIO) started as ‘outperform’ at Bernstein.

Some companies that reported earnings since markets closed last night and have recent share price changes today include Bloomin’ Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: BLMN) is up 3.4% at $13.91 after posting a new post-IPO high of $14.42 earlier today; Finisar Corp. (NASDAQ: FNSR) is up 1.3% at $13.70; Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY) is up 7.9% at $9.70; and Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) is up 0.9% at $51.10 (more coverage here).

Earnings releases scheduled before markets open on Thursday morning include FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL), Harry Winston Diamond Corp. (NYSE: HWD), Korn/Ferry International (NYSE: KFY), Verifone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY), Layne Christensen Co. (NASDAQ: LAYN), and Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is down 15.9% at $2.38. The mobile phone maker introduced new products today with no pricing or shipping information. More coverage here.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) is up 27.6% at $12.38 after posting a new 52-week high of $12.72 earlier today. The retailer got an analyst upgrade today and a revised turnaround plan from the recently hired CEO.

Francesca’s Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: FRAN) is down 17.2% at $29.88. The fast-fashion retailer reported good earnings after markets closed last night, but the CEO also announced his intention to retire.

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

  • 7:00 a.m. – Challenger job-cut report
  • 8:15 a.m. – ADP employment report
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 11:00 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

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