24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- February 28, 2013: Markets Climb Before Late Day Slide (EBAY, RHT, SKS, FSLR, VMW, CECO, CLR, GRPN, GTAT, JCP, LTD, MNST, RGR, PANL, BKS, CVC, KSS, SHLD, BODY, CTIC, CLNE, DECK, GPS, MCP, PANW, SD, BBY, GRPN, JCP, BSFT)

U.S. equity markets opened mixed this morning as the federal budget sequester appears to be set to go into effect tomorrow. Global data releases were also mixed. In Europe, the consumer price index came in at 2%, as expected, but Spain’s fourth-quarter GDP revision was worse than expected. Consumer spending slipped in France and German unemployment ticked up to 6.9%. In Asia, the news was better, with the official announcement of a dovish replacement for Governor of the Bank of Japan and Japanese PMI up month-over-month. In the U.S. the second revision to GDP growth rose less than expected, to just 0.1% (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index rose 0.38% today, now at 81.906. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.8% at 650.13, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.8% today, at $92.05 a barrel, losing 5.6% on the month (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.7% at $111.10 a barrel. Natural gas is up about 1.3% today at about $3.48 per million BTUs following the weekly storage report (more coverage here). Gold settled down 1.1% today at $1,578.10 an ounce, down about 5% for the month of February.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 21 points to 14,054.25 (-0.15%), the NASDAQ fell about 2 points (-0.07%) to 3,160.19, and the S&P 500 fell -0.09% or more than 1 point to 1,514.56.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) started as ‘outperform’ at BMO; Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) started as ‘overweight’ at Barclays; Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) cut to ‘underweight’ at Morgan Stanley; First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) reiterated as ‘hold’ at Argus; and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) started as ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Career Education Corp. (NASDAQ: CECO) is down 9% at $3.25; Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR) is up 4.7% at $87.88; GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) is down 6.5% at $2.87; Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD) is up 2.7% at $45.72; Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) is up 3.3% at $51.27; Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. (NYSE: RGR) is up 2.6% at $54.89 (more coverage here); Universal Display Corp. (NASDAQ: PANL) is up 13.5% at $31.67; Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) is up 4.5% at $15.92; Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) is down 9.1% at $14.06; Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) is down 1.1% at $46.10; and Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) is down 6.2% at $44.52 (more coverage here).

After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Body Central Corp. (NASDAQ: BODY), Cell Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CTIC), Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE), Deckers Outdoor Corp. (NASDAQ: DECK), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW), and SandRidge Energy Co. (NYSE: SD).

Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) was scheduled to report after closing today, but announced a delay until tomorrow, ahead of tonight’s deadline to receive an offer from founder Richard Schulze (more coverage here).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is down 24.3% at $4.53. The daily deals web site absolutely cratered on a dismal earnings report last night. More coverage here.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) is down 18% at $17.34. The department store operator posted results that were even worse than Groupon’s. More coverage here.

Broadsoft Inc. (NASDAQ: BSFT) is down 30.8% at $21.39. The Internet communications company posted good earnings last night, but guidance was way below expectations.

Stay tuned for Friday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is giving a speech. Automakers will be announcing February car sales throughout the day.We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Personal income and outlays
  • 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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