U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning following a mixed bag of data on the U.S. economy and mixed earnings results out this morning. In Europe, Germany’s retail sales fell sharply this month, but the unemployment rate improved to 6.8% (more coverage here). U.K. housing prices rose 0.5% in the month, while French consumer spending was unchanged and the country’s producer price index fell. In Asia, Japanese PMI rose. In the U.S., new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected, as did personal income and employment costs (more coverage here). Yesterday’s sell-off really got global markets off on the wrong today.
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.1% today, now at 79.208. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.8% at 675.95, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.5% today, at $97.49 a barrel, but up 6.1% for the best January since 2006 (if you’re an oil trader). Brent crude trades up 0.5% at $115.52 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.2% today at about $3.34 per million BTUs following a smaller-than-expected draw on stocks (more coverage here). Gold settled down 1.2% today at $1,662.00 an ounce, down 0.8% for the month of January and the fourth consecutive monthly loss for the yellow metal (more gold coverage here).
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 50 points to 13,860.58 (-0.36%), the NASDAQ fell less than 1 point (-0.01%) to 3,142.13, and the S&P 500 fel -0.26% or nearly 4 points to 1,498.11.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) cut to ‘neutral’ at UBS and cut to ‘hold’ at SocGen; Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) cut to ‘underweight’ at Barclays; Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $83 at Canaccord Genuity; Fusion-io Inc. (NYSE: FIO) raised to ‘buy’ at Lazard, cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse; and Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) cut to ‘underperform’ at Bernstein.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS) is up 9.8% at $73.54; ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is down 4.7% at $58.21 (more oil company coverage here); Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) is up 4.3% at $15.74; Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is up 0.4% at $31.37 (more coverage here); JDS Uniphase Corp. (NASDAQ: JDSU) is up 17.7% at $14.59; Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) is up 6.7% at $54.99 (more coverage here); Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) is down 1.3% at $48.31; Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) is up 0.1% at $33.72 (more coverage here); AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) is up 8.3% at $48.46; Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) is down 2.9% at $107.63; Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN) is up 2% at $36.51 after posting a new 52-week high of $40.00 earlier today; Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) is up 0.3% at $517.41 after posting a new 52-week high of $535.35 earlier today; PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) is down 1.9% at $20.66 (more coverage here); Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is down 12.1% at $88.55; and United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) is down 2% at $79.57 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Bally Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BYI), Green Dot Corp. (NASDAQ: GDOT), Wynn Resorts Ltd. (NASDAQ: WYNN), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), Mattel Inc. (NYSE: MAT), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NYSE: NOV), and Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is down 5.1% at $13.08. The smartphone maker changed its name to BlackBerry and launched two new smartphones yesterday, and got a slew of analysts’ downgrades this morning. More coverage here.
WMS Industries Inc. (NYSE: WMS) is up 51.3% at $24.77 after posting a new 52-week high of $25.30 earlier today. The gambling machine maker is being acquired by Scientific Games Corp. (NASDAQ: SGMS) for about $1.5 billion, or $26 a share, in cash.
Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) is down 19.1% at $31.68. The alcoholic beverage maker is collateral damage in a DoJ decision to axe Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s (NYSE: BUD) acquisition of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Friday. Auto sales will be reported throughout the day. New York Fed President William Dudley is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Employment situation
- 8:58 a.m. – PMI manufacturing index
- 9:55 a.m. – University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index
- 10:00 a.m. – Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index
- 10:00 a.m. – Construction spending
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