The three major U.S. stock indexes opened lower this morning following mostly weak reports on European PMI (more coverage here). The reading on U.S. PMI was unchanged from last month (more coverage here). In China, the manufacturing PMI rose but remains below 50, illustrating that the country’s economy is still contracting if more slowly (more coverage here). The higher-than-expected Japanese trade deficit also weighed on Asian markets. Rail stocks also contributed to today’s downturn, following a cut to guidance from Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.48% at 79.438. The GSCI commodity index is down 2% at 656.73, with commodities prices mostly lower today on the stronger dollar. WTI crude oil closed down 0.1% today, at $91.87 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 1.6% at $109.91 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.9% today to $2.813 per thousand cubic feet, following a larger-than-expected inventory build (more coverage here). Gold closed at $1,770.20 an ounce, down less than 0.1%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA almost 19 points to 13,596.93 (0.15%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 7 points (-0.21%) to 3,175.96, and the S&P 500 fell -0.05% or nearly less than 1 point to 1,460.27.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS; Coach Inc. (NYSE: COH) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) cut to ‘underperform’ at CLSA; American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK) raised to ‘Conviction Buy List’ at Goldman Sachs; and Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD) raised to ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have affected several stocks, including Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) is up 3.9% at $34.41 (more coverage here); Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) is down 9.5% at $62.25 (more coverage here); ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) is up 6.2% at $27.25 after posting a new 52-week high of $27.75 earlier today (more coverage here); Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE: JEF) is down 7.5% at $14.49 (more coverage here); and Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) is down 3.4% at $1.27 (more coverage here).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Trulia Inc. (NYSE: TRLA) is up 43.2% at $24.34. The online real estate site held its IPO today. Shares were priced at $17, but opened at $22.10. The IPO raised $102 million. More coverage here.
Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTI) is down 30.4% at $1.17. The solar maker announced a secondary offering of about 9.2 million shares priced at $1.20, more than a third below yesterday’s closing price. More coverage here.
Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOR) is up 18.6% at $31.25. The drugmaker is recovering about a third of yesterday’s loss following word that an insurance company would no longer cover use of one of Questcor’s drugs. The exclusion is limited, and the impact on Questcor could be less than originally believed.
Stay tuned for Friday. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- Quadruple witching day – contracts expire for stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single stock futures.