U.S. equity markets opened lower again this morning following Senator Harry Reid’s comments that negotiations on the U.S. fiscal cliff were not going well. In Asia, markets reacted badly to the report and to comments from the U.S. Treasury that the Chinese yuan is still far undervalued. Chinese officials said economic growth with be 7.8% in the fourth quarter. In Europe, markets also reacted to Reid’s statement and Spain’s report of a drop of 9.7% in retail sales in October. U.S. markets responded favorably to comments from Congressman John Boehner that negotiations over the fiscal cliff were going well. New home sales in the U.S. were lower than expected (more coverage here) and the release of the October Beige Book didn’t contain any big surprises (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.09% at 80.330 after rising to 80.589 earlier. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.2% at 645.96, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.8% today, at $86.49 a barrel, following the EIA petroleum status report (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down about 0.4% at $109.49 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.9% today at about $3.70 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down 1.5% today at $1,716.50 an ounce (more coverage here).
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 107 points to 12,985.03 (0.83%), the NASDAQ rose about 24 points (0.81%) to 2,991.78, and the S&P 500 rose 0.79% or about 11 points to 1,409.93.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) started as ‘neutral’ at Cowen; ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $33 at BofA/ML; Check Point Software Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: CHKP) started as ‘market perform’ at BMO; Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a target price of $20 at Argus; and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) reiterated as ‘outperform’ with a target price of $59 at Credit Suisse.
Earnings reports of interest since U.S. markets closed last night have resulted in price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI) is up 0.8% at $40.41; PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH) is up 6.8% at $116.68 after posting a new 52-week high of $116.93 earlier today; American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) is up 7% at $20.75 (more coverage here); Ann Inc. (NYSE: ANN) is up 8.2% at $35.08; Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR) is up 9.4% at $14.21; JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) is up 7.7% at $0.70 (more coverage here); Movado Group Inc. (NYSE: MOV) is up 9.3% at $35.23; and SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) is flat at $1.18.
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO), Guess? Inc. (NYSE: GES), Tivo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), Workday Inc. (NASDAQ: WDAY), Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS), Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY), and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
The Fresh Market Inc. (NASDAQ: TFM) is down 13.5% at $52.10. The specialty grocer put up weak numbers and guided lower.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – GDP
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 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 Treasury note auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply
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