U.S. equity markets opened mixed this morning, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both getting pushed lower on a report that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has cut iPhone component orders on its suppliers (more coverage here). U.S. markets got little help from overseas. In Europe, industrial production data came in below expectations, with output falling in 16 countries (more coverage here). Markets closed higher in Asia, mostly on the strength of an announcement from China that it would increase the allowable amount of foreign direct investment by a factor of 10. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is speaking after markets close today in a conversation at the University of Michigan on monetary policy and the U.S. economy.
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.08% today, now at 79.498. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.5% at 649.58, with commodities prices mostly higher again today as corn prices continue to push higher. WTI crude oil closed up 0.6% today, at $4.14a barrel. Brent crude trades up about 1.1% at $111.89 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.5% today at about $3.8 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.5% today at $1,669.40 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 19 points to 13,507.32 (0.14%), the NASDAQ fell about 8 points (-0.26%) to 3,117.50, and the S&P 500 fell -0.09% or just over 1 point to 1,470.68.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades of note today, including Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) raised to ‘outperform’ at William Blair; ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH) cut to ‘neutral’ at Piper Jaffray; Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) raised to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank; Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS; and Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) raised to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in price moves today, including this one as of the last half hour of trading: PPG Industries Inc. (NYSE: PPG) is down 0.6% at $141.24.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is up 9% today at $14.78. The mobile phone maker is posting gains on today’s reported weakness in Apple iPhone orders, the coming launch of the company’s Blackberry 10, and short covering. Which is the most influential factor is matter of opinion.
Aurizon Mines Ltd. (NYSEMKT: AZK) is up 33.7% at $4.63. The junior gold miner has received a buyout offer from another junior Canadian gold miner, Alamos Gold Inc., at a 40% premium to last Wednesday’s closing price. Alamos has applied to for a listing on the NYSE under the ticker symbol ‘AGI.’
Liberty Media Corp. (NASDAQ: STRZA) is up 9.7% at $15.58. The owner of cable TV’s Starz and Encore channels completed an IPO today that opened at $14.15.
Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) is up 12.7% at $12.26. The PC maker is rumored to be a takeover target — again. More coverage here. And here’s a look at other big high-tech stocks that could be ripe for plucking, providing there are some very deep-pocketed buyers out there.
Stay tuned for Tuesday. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
8:30 a.m. – Producer price index
8:30 a.m. – Retail sales
8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing survey
10:00 a.m. – Business inventories
11:30 a.m. – 4-week Treasury bill auction