U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following a two-day run of losses. No significant data was scheduled to be released in the U.S. today, so investors were guided by corporate earnings and lower share prices after the last couple of days. In Europe, the Financial Times reported that Spain’s Bankia will report an annual loss of €19 billion next Thursday, the largest ever by a Spanish firm. Germany’s fourth quarter GDP growth was left unrevised, down 0.6%, but a business confidence index unexpectedly rose (more coverage here). In Asia, markets were mixed, and lacking much data to chew on dumped Chinese stocks on talk that the government plans to tighten monetary policy and that some new data showed a sharp rise in housing prices.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.03% today, now at 81.482. The GSCI commodity index is down 1.6% at 657.31, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.3% today, at $93.13 a barrel, but ended the week down 2.9%. Brent crude trades up 0.5% at $114.09 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.1% today at about $3.28 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.4% today at $1,572.80 an ounce, the lowest settlement price since last July and down 2.3% for the week.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 120 points to 14,000.65 (0.86%), the NASDAQ rose more than 30 points (0.97%) to 3,161.82, and the S&P 500 rose 0.88% or about 13 points to 1,515.59.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) cut to ‘sell’ at MKM Partners; First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) cut to ‘underperform’ at Pac-Crest; McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) reiterated as ‘outperform’ and price target raised to $104 at Credit Suisse; Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) raised to ‘outperform’ at Raymond James; and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $7.50 at Argus after share price drops below Softbank offer price (more coverage here).
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU) is down 5.4% at $101.10; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is up 2.9% at $38.35; Frontier Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: FTR) is up 1.7% at $4.09; Marvell Technology Group Inc. (NASDAQ: MRVL) is up 4.1% at $9.86; Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM) is up 0.6% at $40.78 (more mining coverage here); Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) is down 1.1% at $53.94 (more coverage here); Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) is down 4.8% at $46.71 (more coverage here); and Eldorado Gold Corp. (NYSE: EGO) is down 2.1% at $9.60.
After markets close today and before they open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD), Firstenergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL), Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW), and Quicksilver Resources Inc. (NYSE: KWK).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Stay tuned for Monday. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
- 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
- 1:00 p.m. – 2-year note auction
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