24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- September 11, 2012: Markets Stumble Toward a Higher Close (CMCSA, JNJ, DNKN, YELP, FINL, COOL, PANW, HSOL, UNFI, PLL, SCMR, UEC, SABA, WSB, OLBK, CTIC, VLO, PSX, KSW, AMD)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher this morning and have remained higher by a modest amount all day. Overseas markets were mixed, with Asian markets down in advance of tomorrow’s ruling from Germany’s Constitutional Court on the legality of the country’s participation in the eurozone bond-buying program (more coverage here). European markets closed mixed today, with Germany’s DAX index up 1.3% and the UK’s FTSE 100 down fractionally. The U.S. trade deficit came in lower than expected at $42 billion, near an 18-month low (our coverage here). We’re all waiting breathlessly for the German court’s decision tomorrow and the Fed announcement on Thursday.

The U.S. dollar index is lower today, now down 0.7% at 79.835, it’s lowest level since May. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 677.88, with commodities prices mostly lower and corn losing another 0.7% to trade around $7.78/bushel. WTI crude oil closed up 0.7% today, at $97.17/barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.4% at $115.26/barrel. Natural gas is up 6.1% today to $2.986/thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,734.90/ounce, up 0.2% today.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 69 points to 13,232.52 (0.52%), the NASDAQ rose less than 1 point (0.02%) to 3,104.53, and the S&P 500 rose 0.32% or more than 4 points to 1,433.58.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) started as ‘buy’ at Janney; Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $38 at Argus; Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) started as ‘neutral’ at Piper Jaffray; and Finish Line Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL) reiterated as ‘buy’ and target price raised to $28 at Canaccord Genuity.

Some companies that reported earnings since markets closed last Friday and have recent share price changes today include Majesco Entertainment Co. (NASDAQ: COOL) is down 5% at $1.65 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.62 earlier today; Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) is down 7% at $66.75; Hanwha Solarone Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: HSOL) is down 2.8% at $1.03 (more coverage here); and Unified Natural Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: UNFI) is 9% at $55.01.

There are no earnings releases of note before markets open on Wednesday, although there are a few results due out after tomorrow’s close, including Pall Corp. (NYSE: PLL), Sycamore Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: SCMR), Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSEMKT: UEC), and Saba Software Inc. (NASDAQ: SABA).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

WSB Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: WSB) is up 82.2% at $5.32 after posting a new 52-week high of $5.90 earlier today. The financial holding company is being acquired by Old Line Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ: OLBK) for $49 million or about $6.12 per share.

Cell Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CTIC) is up 38.6% at $3.56. The drug company has launched its treaty for a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in Europe.

Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) is up 2.1% at $32.69 after posting a new 52-week high of $32.88 earlier today. The oil refiner led the entire group of refiners higher today, including Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) which also posted a new post-IPO high. Refining stocks are likely getting the boost from expected lower future crude prices and higher prices in the Gulf Coast area as refiners come back online following the shutdown for Hurricane Isaac.

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.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) is up 8.2% at $3.76. The chipmaker made an investment of an undisclosed amount in cloud-based video game maker CiiNow, whose game technology works with AMD’s Radeon graphics products.

Stay tuned for Wednesday. Germany’s Constitutional Court ruling on eurozone contributions is due tomorrow morning at 4:00 a.m. ET. The Fed’s FOMC meeting begins tomorrow as well. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
  • 8:30 a.m. – Import and export prices
  • 10:00 a.m. – Wholesale trade
  • 11:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 10-year note auction

Paul Ausick

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