U.S. equity markets opened essentially flat again this morning as investors waited to see what would happen with the many data releases due out today. In Europe, the non-manufacturing PMI numbers were mixed, with Germany and Spain better than expected while France and Italy were worse (more coverage here). Retail sales in the eurozone also came in significantly worse than expected. In Asia, the new leaders of China have said that they plan to invest more in infrastructure and to ease some investment rules (more coverage here). Some investors read this to mean more stimulus is coming. In the U.S., mortgage applications were up (more coverage here), and factory orders and non-manufacturing PMI also rose more than expected (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.16% at 79.773. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.9% at 644.95, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.7% today, at $87.88 a barrel, following this week’s petroleum status report (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 1% at $108.77 a barrel. Natural gas is up 4.4% today at about $3.69 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled down 0.1% today at $1,693.80 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA nearly 83 points to 13,034.45 (0.64%), the NASDAQ fell more than 23 points (-0.78%) to 2,973.31, and the S&P 500 rose 0.16% or more than 2 points to 1,409.27.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup; Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE: KMP) maintained as ‘outperform’ but estimates cut and target price lowered to $92 at Credit Suisse; Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) cut to ‘sector perform’ at RBC; Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) cut to ‘underperform’ at Raymond James; and Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX) started as ‘overweight’ at J.P. Morgan.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in several price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today: Mattress Firm Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: MFRM) is down 20.8% at $24.00 (more coverage here); Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) is down 18.2% at $7.73 (more coverage here); and Francesca’s Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: FRAN) is up 0.7% at $26.99 (more coverage here).
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Men’s Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE: MW), SAIC Inc. (NYSE: SAI), Vera Bradley Inc. (NASDAQ: VRA), Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU), Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD) and Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) is down 16% at $32.17. The mining company has agreed to acquire both McMoRan Exploration and Production Co. (NYSE: MMR) and Plains Exploration & Production Co. (NYSE: PXP) for about $9 billion. Shares of McMoRan are up 87.7% at $XX and shares of Plains are up 23.8% at $44.65. More coverage here.
TIBCO Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TIBX) is down 19% at $20.01 after posting a new 52-week low of $18.95 earlier today. The software infrastructure company warned on fourth-quarter earnings last night.
Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:30 a.m. – Challenger job-cut report
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply
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