24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- October 18, 2012: Markets Open Low, Close Lower (AAPL, DUK, COP, POT, HOG, AXP, EBAY, NE, SCSS, STLD, BSX, DO, MS, NVR, PM, LUV, SVU, UNP, VZ, AMD, COF, CMG, MSFT, RVBD, BHI, HON, KSU, SLB, GOOG, CLWR, S, NOK)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened lower this morning and really never got on track the entire day. The lower opening was likely a reaction to China’s weakest quarterly GDP growth number in more than three years (more coverage here). In Europe, Spain sold more debt today, with 10-year yields falling to 5.4%. Street demonstrations in Greece and the opening of a summit meeting of EU leaders led the news from Europe today (more coverage here). In the U.S., the Philadelphia Fed survey and the leading indicators release were both quite positive and led to a bounce in equity prices in the mid-morning (more coverage here). All three indexes finished down today, with the Nasdaq leading the way on weak performance in the tech sector.

The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.28% at 79.235. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 664.94, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed flat today, at $92.10 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.35% at $112.82 a barrel. Natural gas is up 3.1% today at about $3.58 per thousand cubic feet, after the weekly storage report showed another inventory gain (more coverage here). Gold closed at $1,744.70 an ounce, down 0.5% for the day.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 7 points to 13,549.48 (-0.06%), the NASDAQ fell more than 31 points (-1.01%) to 3,072.87, and the S&P 500 fell -0.24% or more than 3 points to 1,457.36.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) maintained as ‘outperform’ but target price lowered to $730 at BMO Capital Markets; Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup; ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) raised to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) cut to ‘sector perform’ at RBC; and Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) raised to ‘buy’ with a target price of $54 at Goldman Sachs.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) is down 3% at $57.60; eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) is up 5.3% at $50.76 after posting a new 52-week high of $50.90 earlier today; Noble Corp. (NYSE: NE) is up 4.8% at $39.49; Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ: SCSS) is down 6.8% at $30.41; Steel Dynamics Inc. (NASDAQ: STLD) is up 2.9% at $12.98; Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE: BSX) is down 3.8% at $5.41; Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (NYSE: DO) is up 2.3% at $71.34; KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) is up 4.7% at $8.81; Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is down 3.8% at $17.79; NVR Inc. (NYSE: NVR) is up 3% at $902.46 after posting a new 52-week high of $915.00; Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) is down 4.1% at $88.09; Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is up 0.8% at $9.03 (more coverage here); SUPERVALU Inc. (NYSE: SVU) is up 4.4% at $2.13; Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP) is up 1.6% at $125.65; and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is up 2.6% at $45.87 (more coverage here).

Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD), Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF), Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD), Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), and Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is down 8.2% at $693.65. The Internet search giant reported early today and the news was not pretty. More coverage here.

Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is down 9.1% at $2.06. The wireless carrier is now majority owned by Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) and a full buyout looks increasingly unlikely for now. More coverage here.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is down 2.7% at $2.86. The mobile handset maker reported better-than-expected EPS, but the company’s forecast points at more losses. More coverage here.

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

  • 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales

Paul Ausick