The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher this morning following solid gains in global markets following yesterday’s FOMC decision. The Fed’s plan to pump $40 billion a month into mortgage-backed securities until it feels like stopping has had its first dramatic impact. What remains to be seen is if the new liquidity will boost employment. US markets stayed positive throughout the day, led by a much better-than-expected reading on consumer sentiment (more coverage here) and the CPI reading was, once again, very low (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell, now down 0.51% at 78.857. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.6% at 687.22, with commodities prices higher on the weaker dollar. WTI crude oil closed up 0.7% today, at $99.00 a barrel, up 2.7% for the week. Brent crude trades up 0.74% at $116.74 a barrel. Natural gas is down 3% today to $2.945 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,772.60 an ounce, up fractionally, one day after hitting its highest settlement since late February.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 52 points to 13,591.89 (0.38%), the NASDAQ rose more than 28 points (0.89%) to 3,183.95, and the S&P 500 rose 0.39% or nearly 6 points to 1,465.72.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) started as ‘buy’ at BofA/ML; CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME) cut to ‘underweight’ at JPMorgan; Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR) maintained as ‘hold’ but estimates raised at Argus; Cirrus Logic Inc. (NASDAQ: CRUS) reiterated as ‘buy’ and target price raised to $48 at Canaccord Genuity; and Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) cut to ‘underperform’ at Raymond James.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have been scarce, but here are some price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today: Ku6 Media Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: KUTV) is unchanged at $1.02 and Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: OPTT) is down 7.6% at $3.18.
Before markets open on Monday we are scheduled to hear from LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is up 6% at $21.85. The social network is gaining the strength of its new advertising platform.
Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: ANR) is up 5% at $8.65. The coal miner continues its upward run on investors’ belief that more energy demand will benefit coal miners. More coverage here.
BioFuel Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: BIOF) is up 31% at $8.40. The biofuel maker continued its strong run from yesterday based on a report that David Einhorn had increased his holding in the company.
Virco Mfg Corp. (NASDAQ: VIRC) is up 77.4% at $2.75 after posting a new 52-week high of $3.84 earlier today. The furniture maker crushed earnings estimates today.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is up 1% at $690.62 after posting another new high of $696.98 earlier today. The company won a court ruling in Germany that could severely damage its competitors. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing survey
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!