U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning as investors seemed to prefer a little risk trading on U.S. election day. Asian markets were cautious ahead of today’s elections, while in Europe some weak non-manufacturing PMI data did not seem to curb traders’ enthusiasm (more coverage here). One surprise in Asia was that the Royal Bank of Australia held interest rates at 3.25% when most observers were expecting a 0.25% rate cut. There was no significant data release in the U.S. today, but a $32 billion Treasury auction of 3-year notes went out at the highest yield in seven months (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.22% at 80.573. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.6% at 629.85, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed up 3.6% today, at $88.71 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 2.8% at $110.72 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.6% today at about $3.61 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,715.00 an ounce, up 1.9% for the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 133 points to 13,245.52 (1.01%), the NASDAQ rose more than 12 points (0.41%) to 3,011.93, and the S&P 500 rose 0.78% or about 11 points to 1,428.36.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Credit Suisse Group (NYSE: CS) raised to ‘equal weight’ at Barclays; Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) raised to ‘buy’ with no change to target price of $320 at BofA/ML; Beam Inc. (NYSE: BEAM) reiterated as ‘buy’ with target price of $74 at Argus; Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) started as ‘outperform’ with a target price of $10 at Credit Suisse; and United States Cellular Corp. (NYSE: USM) raised to ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan.
Earnings reports since U.S. markets closed last night have resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: CF Industries Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CF) is up 0.3% at $206.16; Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX) is down 12.6% at $54.94; Plains All American Pipeline LP (NYSE: PAA) is up 2.8% at $46.72 after posting a new 52-week high of $46.77 earlier today; Walter Energy Co. (NYSE: WLT) is up 2.5% at $37.45; Zillow Inc. (NASDAQ: Z) is down 18.1% at $28.14 (more coverage here); American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) is up 3% at $3.78; AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is up 17.8% at $42.18 after posting a new 52-week high of $42.29 earlier today (more coverage here); Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) is up 6.7% at $15.43 (more coverage here); CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS) is up 0.6% at $46.92 (more coverage here); Fossil Inc. (NASDAQ: FOSL) is down 10.6% at $83.53; Louisiana Pacific Corp. (NYSE: LPX) is down 1.3% at $15.84; and Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is down 19.9% at $11.97.
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: GDP), News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA), Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX), Two Harbors Investment Corp. (NYSE: TWO), AES Corp. (NYSE: AES), Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU), Clean Harbors Inc. (NYSE: CLH), Enbridge Inc. (NYSE: ENB), HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC), James River Coal Co. (NASDAQ: JRCC), Leap Wireless International Inc. (NASDAQ: LEAP), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), and WellPoint Inc. (NYSE: WLP).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI) is down 49.3% at $1.53 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.49 earlier today. The video game maker will delay the introduction of revisions to a number of its top-selling games and has hired an advisor to help it evaluate its options and raise cash.
Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) is up 17.5% at $2.95. The office supply retailer reported results this morning that were weak, but chatter about a potential merger with OfficeMax Inc. (NYSE: OMX) put a charge into the share price. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 1:00 p.m. – 10-year note auction
- 3:00 p.m. – Consumer credit