U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning, dragged down by weak economic data from Europe. Germany, France, Italy, and Greece all reported worse-than-expected GDP contraction for the fourth quarter of 2012, and the eurozone as whole experienced GDP contraction of 0.6% (more coverage here). In Asia, Japan reported a second consecutive quarter of GDP contraction, officially placing the country in recession (more coverage here
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.47% today, now at 80.462. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 679.20, with commodities prices mixed again today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.3% today, at $97.31. Brent crude trades up 0.1% at $117.94 a barrel. Natural gas is down 4.1% today at about $3.17 per million BTUs following a smaller-than-expected draw on inventories (more coverage here). Gold settled down 0.6% today at $1,635.50 an ounce, its lowest settlement since August 20th.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 9 points to13,974.31 (-0.06%), the NASDAQ rose about 2 points (0.06%) to 3,198.67, and the S&P 500 rose 0.07% or about 1 point to 1,521.41.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) started as ‘sell’ at Canaccord Genuity; Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) cut to ‘hold’ at Needham; Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) cut to ‘neutral’ at Cowen; Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) cut to ‘market perform’ at Raymond James; and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) raised to ‘outperform’ at Raymond James.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) is up 1.1% at $13.93 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.99 earlier today (more coverage here); Avis Budget Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CAR) is up 5.8% at $24.39 after posting a new 52-week high of $24.90 earlier today; Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is down 0.9% at $20.96 (more coverage here); Cloud Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE: CLD) is down 1.4% at $16.72; Intrepid Potash Inc. (NYSE: IPI) is down 6% at $22.10; Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) is up 6.2% at $8.38; Metlife Inc. (NYSE: MET) is down 1.8% at $36.84 (more coverage here); NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) is down 0.3% at $35.72; Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD) is up 2.8% at $130.26 after posting a new 52-week high of $133.68 earlier today; TripAdvisor Inc. (NASDAQ: TRIP) is down 7.3% at $43.50; Zillow Inc. (NASDAQ: Z) is up 9.3% at $42.59 after posting a new 52-week high of $47.85 earlier today; Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: ANR) is up 13.8% at $9.66 (more coal coverage here); Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) is up 3% at $32.54 (more coverage here); DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) is down 3.2% at $50.00; General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is 3.4% at $27.71 (more coverage here); and PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) is up 1.2% at $72.34 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE: GG), American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP), Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW), Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB), J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM), and Tower International Inc. (NYSE: TOWR).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
H.J. Heinz Co.(NYSE: HNZ) is up 19.7% at $72.39 after posting a new 52-week high of $72.61 earlier today. The food products maker is being acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) and a private equity firm for $28 billion. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Friday. Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing survey
- 9:00 a.m. – Treasury International Capital (TIC) data
- 9:15 a.m. – Industrial production
- 9:55 a.m. – University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index
- 10:00 a.m. – E-commerce retail sales