24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- October 10, 2012: Markets Slide Again (HD, QCOM, DLTR, ARMH, JCI, AA, YUM, COST, HELE, HST, RT, SWY, WGO, OCZ, AUG, TRLG, SIRI)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened about flat this morning following rather lackluster trading in Asia and Europe. There was little economic data out today, although both France and Italy turned in better-than-expected industrial production increases. In China, a report that the government would subsidize auto purchases among rural residents sent markets higher, while Japanese markets were lower on weaker auto sales in China. U.S. economic data got off to a somewhat slow start with a slight decline in mortgage applications (more coverage here). This afternoon’s auction of 10-year Treasurys (more coverage here) and the release of the Fed’s Beige Book, which noted a “modest” expansion in the U.S. economy (more coverage here), were not enough to light a fire under buyers.

The U.S. dollar index rose today, now down 0.06% at 79.904. The GSCI commodity index is up 1.6% at 667.25, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed down 1.2% today, at $91.25 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.2% at $114.31 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.3% today to $3.476 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,765.10 an ounce, up just $0.10 an ounce, but the first rise in three days.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 128 points to 13,344.97 (-0.95%), the NASDAQ fell more than 13 points (-0.43%) to 3,051.78, and the S&P 500 fell -0.62% or nearly 9 points to 1,432.57.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) cut to ‘perform’ at Oppenheimer; Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) raised to ‘outperform’ at BNP Paribas; Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) raised to ‘outperform’ at Wells Fargo; ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; and Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI) cut to ‘neutral’ at BofA/ML.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) is down 4.7% at $8.70 (more coverage here); Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) is up 7.7% at $70.79 (more coverage here); Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is up 1.9% at $101.50 after posting a new 52-week high of $104.43 earlier today (more coverage here); Helen of Troy Ltd. (NASDAQ: HELE) is down 12.2% at $28.05 (more coverage here); and Host Hotels and Resorts Inc. (NYSE: HST) is up 1.3% at $15.73.

Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Ruby Tuesday Inc. (NYSE: RT), Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY), and Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

OCZ Technology Group Inc. (NASDAQ: OCZ) is down 40.6% at $1.87 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.79 earlier today. The solid-state drive company will file quarterly results late and revenues will be lower. More coverage here.

AuRico Gold Inc. (NYSE: AUQ) is up 20.2% at $7.72. The junior gold miner sold a Mexican mine and a stake in another property for $750 million in cash.

True Religion Apparel Inc. (NASDAQ: TRLG) is up 21.8% at $25.59. The clothing retailer said today that it is exploring strategic alternatives. More coverage here.

Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) is up 4.2% at $2.74 after posting a new 52-week high of $2.75 earlier today. The satellite radio company raised guidance on subscriber numbers today. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Thursday. Fed Governor Jeremy Stein, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – International trade
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 8:30 a.m. – Import and export prices
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 11:00 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 30-year note auction
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

Paul Ausick