24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- February 26, 2013: Markets Show a Little Enthusiasm (ADM, LULU, SNDK, YUM, IP, VVUS, HFC, HD, M, MSO, RSH, SKS, TSL, AWK, EIX, PCLN, FSLR, RRC, WFT, DLTR, JOY, SWC, TGT)

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning and wobbled around before heading upward for most of the day. Strong home prices and a surge in the consumer confidence index (more coverage here) gave the markets all the push they needed to pay little attention to the Italian election results (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index rose 0.27% today, now at 81.894. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.1% at 658.64, with commodities prices mixed today on the stronger dollar. WTI crude oil closed down 0.5% today, at $92.63 a barrel, the lowest finish of the year so far. Brent crude trades down 1.6% at $112.64 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.4% today at about $3.43 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 1.8% today at $1,615.50 an ounce, the largest one-day gain so far this year.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 116 points to 13,900.13 (0.84%), the NASDAQ rose more than 13 points (0.43%) to 3,129.65, and the S&P 500 rose 0.61% or about 9 points to 1,496.94.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM) cut to ‘market perform’ at BMO; Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) started as ‘outperform’ at Cowen; SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) raised to ‘outperform’ at RBC; Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) reiterated ‘hold’ but 2013 earnings estimate lowered 15% at Argus; and International Paper Co. (NYSE: IP) started as ‘buy’ at Jefferies.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is down 12.3% at $10.88 (more coverage here); HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC) is down 0.4% at $54.41 (more coverage here); Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is up 5.7% at $67.54 (more coverage here); Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) is up 2.9% at $39.64 (more coverage here); Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (NYSE: MSO) is down 5.7% at $2.84; RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) is up 1.3% at $3.09; Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) is up 1.4% at $11.19; and Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL) is down 5.6% at $4.22 (more solar coverage here).

After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK), Edison International (NYSE: EIX), First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN), Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC), Weatherford International Ltd. (NYSE: WFT), Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR), Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY), Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE: SWC), and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT)

Stay tuned for Wednesday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is giving his second-day of semi-annual testimony to the House Financial Services Committee and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 10:00 a.m. – Pending home sales
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 7-year note auction

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