24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- September 10, 2012: Markets Spend Another Day Around the Flat Line (AAPL, ITRI, NRG, CELG, S, PPHM, RFIL, JW-A, COOL, PANW, HSOL, UNFI, GERN, TITN, GMCR, KSW, AMZN)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened lower this morning after a weekend of mixed news from Asia. China’s trade balance rose on falling imports and industrial production failed to meet estimates (more coverage here). In Europe, the French government lowered its GDP growth estimate from 1.2% to 0.8% for 2012, leading the new French president to say he would introduce legislation to raise taxes and cut spending in an effort to curb deficits (more coverage here). In the U.S., stocks have traded mostly lower today, but only slightly. The big news this week comes from Germany’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday (more coverage here) and the U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday.

The U.S. dollar index is higher today, now up 0.08% at 80.320. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.7% today at 676.64, with commodities prices mostly lower on the stronger dollar and corn well below $8.00/bushel again. WTI crude oil closed up 0.1% today, at $96.54/barrel, as prices reacted to some big transactions and more hope for a boost from China’s stimulus deal announced last week (more coverage here). Brent crude trades up 0.3% at $114.59/barrel. Natural gas is up 3% today to $2.76/thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,731.80/ounce, down 0.5% today, as traders wait for Thursday’s Fed meeting.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 52 points to 13,254.29 (-0.39%), the NASDAQ fell more than 32 points (-1.03%) to 3,104.02, and the S&P 500 fell -0.61% or nearly 9 points to 1,429.08.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) started as ‘buy’ at Monness Crespi Hardt; Itron Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) started as ‘buy’ at BofA/ML; NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS; and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) raised to ‘buy’ at Nomura.

Some companies that reported earnings since markets closed last Friday and have recent share price changes today include Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: PPHM) is down 0.2% at $4.49 after posting a new 52-week high of $5.14 earlier today; RF Industries Ltd. (NASDAQ: RFIL) is up 11.9% at $4.47 after posting a new 52-week high of $4.98 earlier today; and John Wiley & Sons Inc. (NYSE: JW-A) is down 5.4% at $48.55.

Earnings releases scheduled before markets open on Tuesday morning include Majesco Entertainment Co. (NASDAQ: COOL), Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW), Hanwha Solarone Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: HSOL), and Unified Natural Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: UNFI).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Geron Corp. (NASDAQ: GERN) is down 56.9% at $1.25 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.23 earlier today. The biopharmaceuticals maker has stopped a breast cancer drug trial. More coverage here.

Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN) is down 23.1% at $19.51 (more coverage here). The farm and heavy equipment retailer lowered guidance this morning and badly missed earnings estimates. More coverage here.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is up 8.1% at $30.08. The coffee roasting firm continues to get a boost from a ratings upgrade last Friday that might have been a bit exuberant. More coverage here.

KSW Corp. (NASDAQ: KSW)) is up 22.1% at $4.97 after posting a new all-time high of $5.02 earlier today. The HVAC company is being acquired by Related Companies for $5 a share in a transaction worth $32.1 million. Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) put up a new high today of $260.00 before pulling back to $257.63 later.

Apple also put up a new high today of $683.29 before falling back to $665.61.

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

  • 7:30 a.m. – National Federation of Small Businesses small business optimism index
  • 8:30 a.m. – International trade
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction
  • 1:00 p.m. – 3-year note auction

Paul Ausick

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