24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- September 26, 2012: Markets Slide Again as Spain Staggers (CHK, RIG, SNDK, FB, CCL, JBL, SNX, PRGS, WOR, FUL, DFS, MKC, LPHI, GEVO, RIMM, AM)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened mixed this morning as yields on Spain’s 10-year bonds took a run at 6% again and the Catalan regional government announced a “snap” election to judge sentiment for secession (more coverage here). Asian markets closed down today as investors had little regional news to digest so reacted to continuing political issues and speculation. In the U.S. new home sales came in lower than expected, but selling prices notched up significantly (more coverage here). The auction for 5-year Treasuries went off at the second-lowest yield ever as today marked a definite “risk off” mood (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.42% at 79.889. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 658.56, with commodities prices down on the stronger dollar. WTI crude oil closed down 1.5% today, at $89.98 a barrel, the lowest close in nearly two months even though today’s inventory report posted a decline in crude stocks (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.5% at $109.86 a barrel. Natural gas is up 3.4% today to $3.023 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,753.60 an ounce, down 0.7%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 44 points to 13,413.59 (-0.33%), the NASDAQ fell about 24 points (-0.77%) to 3,093.70, and the S&P 500 fell -0.57% or more than 8 points to 1,433.32.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) cut to ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus; Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) raised to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) cut to ‘market perform’ at JMP Securities; Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reiterated as ‘neutral’ with a target price of $23 at BofA/ML; and Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) cut to ‘hold’ at Jefferies and raised to ‘buy’ at S&P Equity Research.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these: Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) is down 9.7% at $18.93 (more coverage here) and Synnex Corp. (NYSE: SNX) is down 5.7% at $32.30.

Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Progress Software Corp. (NASDAQ: PRGS), Worthington Industries Inc. (NYSE: WOR), HB Fuller Co. (NYSE: FUL), Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), and McCormick & Company Inc. (NYSE: MKC).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Life Partners Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LPHI) is up 138.4% at $3.48. The life insurance settlement company beat back a lawsuit by the Texas Attorney General. More coverage here.

Gevo Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO) is down 12.6% at $1.87 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.77 earlier today. The biofuel maker will switch an isobutanol plant to ethanol production, a backward move brought on by some technical issues.

Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is up 6% at $7.00. The smartphone maker added 2 million subscribers in its most recent quarter according to comments by the company’s CEO.

American Greetings Corp. (NYSE: AM) is up 17.1% at $16.79. The greeting card company has received a buyout offer from the family of founder Zev Weiss in a go-private deal valuing the company at $581 million ($17.18 a share).

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 8:30 a.m. – GDP
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 8:30 a.m. – Corporate profits
  • 10:00 a.m. – Pending home sales
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
  • 1:00 p.m. – 7-year note auction
  • 3:00 p.m. – Farm prices
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick

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