U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following a closely watched report on U.S. retail sales came in about as expected (more coverage here). U.S. business inventories rose less than expected in December (more coverage here), but the difference was not enough to move the markets. In Asia, the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges remain closed for the new year holiday and there was no news or data of note from the region. In Europe, the head of the Bank of England said he expects U.K. inflation to rise to 3% by summer, which caused the pound to sell off and hit a six-month low versus the dollar. Overall, though, today’s economic news had little impact on trading.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.01% today, now at 80.115. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.2% at 678.90, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.5% today, at $97.01 a barrel after the U.S. EIA released its weekly inventory report (more coverage here). Brent crude trades up 0.1% at $117.90 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.4% today at about $3.31 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.3% today at $1,645.10 an ounce, its lowest settlement since August.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 36 points to 13,982.60 (-0.26%), the NASDAQ rose more than 10 points (0.33%) to 3,196.88, and the S&P 500 rose 0.06% or less than 1 point to 1,520.32.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) cut to ‘underperform’ at Raymond James; General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reiterated as ‘outperform’ and price target raised to $25 at Credit Suisse; Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) raised to ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee; Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank; and Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) raised to ‘neutral’ at Nomura.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Bankrate Inc. (NYSE: RATE) is down 16.9% at $10.29 after posting a new 52-week low of $9.90 earlier today (more coverage here); Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. (NASDAQ: BWLD) is down 5.7% at $76.44; Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is down 0.2% at $3.18 (more coverage here); Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX) is down 20.1% at $59.91; Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is up 2.4% at $39.91 after posting a new 52-week high of $42.00 earlier today (more coverage here); Dean Foods Inc. (NYSE: DF) is down 8.9% at $16.75 (more coverage here); Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) is down 3.3% at $90.88 (more coverage here); and Total SA (NYSE: TOT) is up 1% at $51.93 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT), Avis Budget Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CAR), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), Cloud Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE: CLD), Intrepid Potash Inc. (NYSE: IPI), Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC), Metlife Inc. (NYSE: MET), NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP), Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD), TripAdvisor Inc. (NASDAQ: TRIP), Zillow Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: ANR), Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX), DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), and PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Real Goods Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: RSOL) is up 58.9% at $2.40 after posting a new 52-week high of $2.83 earlier today. The solar installer has been selected by an unnamed homebuilder to install residential solar systems at new communities in California.
BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) is down 8.1% at $13.97. The smartphone maker said today that it would not release a low-cost phone this year.
Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: PPHM) is down 18.5% at $1.72. The biopharmaceuticals maker announced “modest” results from a Phase II trial of its pancreatic cancer treatment.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 30-year bond auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply
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