24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- March 14, 2013: Markets Climb to New Highs Today (AMZN, EBAY, WFC, VMW, ETFC, BFAM, MW, VRA, LODE, SOL, AEO, MCP, ZUMZ, BWS, MGM, SD)

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following a better-than-expected report on new jobless benefits claims in the U.S. and a mostly inline report on producer prices (more coverage here). In Europe, eurozone unemployment fell a bit more than expected and Spanish retail sales were not as bad as expected. In Asia, key interest rates in New Zealand and South Korea remained unchanged. The Shanghai index closed higher for the first time in six days. The DJIA closed with a tenth straight day of gains and the S&P closed within a couple of bucks of its all-time high.

The U.S. dollar index fell 0.41% today, now at 82.553. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.4% at 647.17, with commodities prices mostly higher today on the weaker dollar. WTI crude oil closed up 0.6% today, at $93.03 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.7% at $109.00 a barrel. Natural gas is up 3.8% today at about $3.82 per million BTUs following a relatively large draw on stocks last week (more coverage here). Gold settled up 0.1% today at $1,590.70 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 82 points to 14,538.99 (0.58%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 14 points (0.43%) to 3,258.93, and the S&P 500 rose 0.56% or nearly 9 points to 1,563.20.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan; eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $65 at Argus and raised to ‘overweight’ at Evercore; Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) started as ‘market perform’ at BMO Capital; VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) raised to ‘outperform’ at William Blair and maintained on Focus List at Credit Suisse; and E*Trade Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: ETFC) cut to ‘underperform’ at KBW.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc. (NYSE: BFAM) is up 11.2% at $33.35 after posting a post-IPO high of $33.49 earlier today; Men’s Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE: MW) is up 19% at $34.60; Vera Bradley Inc. (NASDAQ: VRA) is down 8.4% at $22.81; Comstock Mining Inc. (NYSEMKT: LODE) is down 7.1% at $1.97; and ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) is up 1.4% at $2.17.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: AEO), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ), and Brown Shoe Co. Inc. (NYSE: BWS).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

MGM Resorts International Inc. (NYSE: MGM) is up 6.5% at $13.21. The casino and resort operator is a likely target for further investment by Kirk Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp. More coverage here.

SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE: SD) is down 3.3% at $5.66. The energy exploration and production company caved in to demands from a large investor and it looks the company’s CEO is headed for the door. More coverage here.

E*Trade Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: ETFC) is down 8.3% at $10.84. The online financial firm got battered after its largest investor said it would sell its entire stake in the company. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Friday. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Consumer price index
  • 8:30 a.m. – Empire State manufacturing index
  • 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

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