24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- September 7, 2012: Markets Mostly Flat on Weak Jobs Report (APOL, GMCR, NVDA, WY, PCLN, MFRM, SWHC, CMVT, KR, LULU, PPHM, RFIL, TITN, JW-A, ANR, AAPL, AMZN, GOOG, INTC)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened mixed this morning following a lower-than-expected increase in non-farm payrolls (more coverage here). In Asia and Europe, though, markets were higher for different reasons. Asian markets got a big boost from China’s announcement of a RMB1 trillion infrastructure spending plan (more coverage here). Both the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges closed more than 3% higher and the Nikkei closed up more than 2%. In Europe, major exchanges also closed higher as Spanish and Italian bond yields fell, and economic data was generally positive. Some U.S. stocks also got a boost from the Chinese announcement, with coal, steel, and heavy equipment stocks all rising (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index is lower today, now down 0.95% at 80.270. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.4% today at 671.72, with commodities prices mostly higher and corn inching above $8.00/bushel again. WTI crude oil closed up 0.9% today, at $96.42/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.7% at $114.29/barrel. Natural gas is down 0.1% today to $2.68/thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,740.50/ounce, up 2.1% today, reacting to the Chinese stimulus package and new hopes for more stimulus in the U.S. following the poor jobs report.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 14 points to 13,306.64 (0.11%), the NASDAQ rose less than 1 point (0.02%) to 3,136.42, and the S&P 500 rose 0.40% or nearly 6 points to 1,437.92.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) cut to ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank; Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) started as ‘buy’ with a target price of $39 at Lazard; Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) cut to ‘hold’ at Cantor Fitzgerald; Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY) removed from the ‘Conviction Buy List’ and cut to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; and Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN) raised to ‘buy’ at Nomura.

Some companies that reported earnings since markets closed last night and have recent share price changes today include Mattress Firm Holding Co. (NASDAQ: MFRM) is down 2.5% at $31.65; Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) is up 13.1% at $10.18 after posting a new 52-week high of $11.00 earlier today; Comverse Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: CMVT) is up 4.9% at $6.30; Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) is down 1.8% at $22.68 and Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) is up 12.5% at $77.15 (more coverage here).

Earnings releases scheduled before markets open on Monday morning include Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: PPHM), RF Industries Ltd. (NASDAQ: RFIL), Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN), and John Wiley & Sons Inc. (NYSE: JW-A).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) is up 16.7% at $6.90. The coal miner’s shares jumped on the announcement of China’s latest spending spree. More coverage here.

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: PPHM) is up 45.6% at $4.47 after posting a new 52-week high of $5.08 earlier today. The drug company’s lung cancer drug has shown a significant improvement in patient survival rates. More coverage here.

Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) is down 15.1% at $10.67. The Internet streaming radio company could be getting competition from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). More coverage here. Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is up 2.8% at $258.45 after posting a new all-time high of $259.42 earlier today. The ecommerce giant introduced new models of its Kindle and Kindle Fire tablets yesterday. Apple, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), and Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX) also posted new highs today. More coverage here.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is down 4.2% at $24.04. The chip-making giant lowered its revenue forecast and brought most chip stocks down with it. More coverage here.

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

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
  • 3:00 p.m. – Federal Reserve report on consumer credit

Have a great weekend!

Paul Ausick

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