The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher this morning and, following a morning dip, have remained in positive territory (barely) for most of the day. The first bit of big news that moved markets came from Germany, where the Constitutional Court approved Germany’s participation in the eurozone bailout fund (more coverage here). In Asia, China’s premier indicated that more stimulus might be appropriate to help spur domestic consumption, and that also helped buoy markets. The announcement of the new iPhone 5 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) gave equities a momentary lift until investors remembered that they had already priced the new device in (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index is lower today, now down 0.19% at 79.705. The GSCI commodity index is up about 0.5% at 681.05, with commodities prices mixed. The corn crop production report pushed corn prices down another 1% to around $7.68 per bushel (more coverage here). WTI crude oil closed down 0.2% today, at $97.01 a barrel, following an unexpected jump in crude inventories (more coverage here). Brent crude trades up 0.3% at $115.73 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.7% today to $3.044 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,733.70 an ounce, down 0.1% today.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 10 points to 13,333.35 (0.07%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 10 points (0.32%) to 3,114.31, and the S&P 500 rose 0.21% or about 3 points to 1,436.57.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) raised to ‘neutral’ at BofA/ML; Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; Renren Inc. (NYSE: RENN) started as ‘sell’ at Citigroup ; Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley; Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) started as ‘overweight’ with a price target of $61 at Piper Jaffray; and Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NASDAQ: ADP) cut to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies.
There were no earnings reports of note out this morning or after markets closed last night. After markets close today we are scheduled to hear from Pall Corp. (NYSE: PLL), Sycamore Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: SCMR), Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSEMKT: UEC), and Saba Software Inc. (NASDAQ: SABA). Before markets open on Thursday we are set to hear from K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN) and Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR).
One interesting note from today comes from Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), which debuted a rights listing for the spinoff of the company’s Hometown and Outlet stores. Trading under the ticker symbol “SHOSHR” on the Nasdaq, options went out at $1.75 and are trading at $XX in the last half hour of trading today. Volume has been very heavy, with nearly 20 million options changing hands. The stock is scheduled to begin trading on the Nasdaq next month under the ticker symbol “SHOS”.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is up 7.3% at $20.84. The social network company’s CEO answered questions at a technical conference last night and managed to put some air under the stock price. More coverage here.
Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) is up 19.8% at $2.27. The office supply store on essentially no news today.
Coffee Holding Co. (NASDAQ: JVA) is up 18.7% at $8.71. The coffee roaster and wholesaler reported solid earnings and revenues, and coupled with some bad news on the coffee crop, shares jumped today.
Halcon Resources Inc. (NYSE: HK) is down 11.5% at $7.57. The independent oil & gas company announced a secondary offering of 35 million shares on behalf of a shareholder. The company will receive no proceeds from the sale.
Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) is down 9.4% at $51.07. The energy drink maker tumbled on news that two U.S. Senators have asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to assess health risks from caffeine-heavy beverages.
Stay tuned for Thursday. The Fed’s FOMC meeting continues today and Fed governor Sarah Bloom Raskin is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 8:30 a.m. – Producer price index
- 11:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 11:30 a.m. – 30-year bond auction
- 12:30 p.m. – FOMC announcement
- 2:00 p.m. – FOMC forecasts
- 2:00 p.m. – U.S. Treasury budget
- 2:15 p.m. – Fed Chairman’s press conference
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply