U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning but never managed to hold a position in positive territory. Despite a significant drop in U.K. industrial production in February, the country’s trade deficit was narrow than expected and the FTSE 100 index actually rose. Elsewhere in Europe the few data points that were released today did not move markets much one way or the other. In Asia, the Chinese government tried to persuade investors (not altogether successfully) that downturns in yesterday’s data reports were mainly due to the lunar new year. In the U.S., there was no early morning data and few earnings reports of note. A report on job gains and losses was mostly positive (more coverage here), and the afternoon auction of 3-year Treasury notes went off at a yield of 0.411%, identical with the February auction.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.02% today, now at 82.594. The GSCI commodity index is down fractionally at 648.72, with commodities prices mostly mixed again today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5% today, at $92.54 a barrel, following the release of the EIA’s short-term energy outlook (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.6% at $109.61 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.3% today at about $3.64 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.9% today at $1,591.70 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up less than 2 points to 14,450.06 (0.01%), the NASDAQ fell more than 10 points (-0.32%) to 3,242.32, and the S&P 500 fell -0.24% or nearly 4 points to 1,552.48.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; RadioShack Inc. (NYSE: RSH) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs; Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) started as ‘outperform’ at Pac-Crest; Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) maintained as ‘hold’ but price target cut to $420 at Jefferies; and The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) started as ‘overweight’ at Barclays.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE: CVI) is up 1.6% at $59.57; Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) is down 10.1% at $15.82; Fuel Cell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) is down 4.1% at $1.00; Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) is up 0.8% at $41.81; Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT) is up 5.5% at $12.56; Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is up 1.2% at $103.68 (more coverage here); and Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE: SSI) is down 0.8% at $26.62.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Dole Food Company Inc. (NYSE: DOLE), Majesco Entertainment Co. (NASDAQ: COOL), Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: PPHM), Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR), and TravelCenters of America LLC (NYSEMKT: TA).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ: GLUU) is up 15.3% at $2.79. The mobile game developer launched its first real-money mobile gambling game in the U.K.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) is up 4.3% at $15.69. The retailer denies the CEO is leaving and the shares rise. Go figure.
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is down 4.8% at $3.74. The social game maker says it will offer real-money gambling games, but Glu Mobile beat it to the punch today.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:30 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 8:30 a.m. – Retail sales
- 8:30 a.m. – Import and export prices
- 10:00 a.m. – Business inventories
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 1:00 p.m. – 10-year note auction
- 2:00 p.m. – Treasury budget
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