24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- March 20, 2013: Markets Open Higher, Hold Gains on FOMC Statement (ZNGA, DE, BBY, AAPL, BBRY, ADBE, CTAS, FTEK, WSM, FDX, GIS, LEN, ORCL, JBL, TUMI, KBH, LULU, MOV, ROST, OMPI, VRX, AFFY)

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning and maintained the upside, anticipating that today’s FOMC statement would not provoke any surprises. And the markets were not surprised (more coverage here). In Europe, the Cypriot parliament’s rejection of the levy on deposits led to another flurry of reports, leaks, and opinions on what it all means. In his budget message, the U.K.’s Chancellor of the Exchequer said the British economy is getting better, but the government has cut the GDP growth forecast from 1.2% to 0.6% for 2013. No major data or news from Asia today.

The U.S. dollar index fell 0.34% today, now at 82.729. The GSCI commodity index is down 1.1% at 643.16, with commodities prices mostly higher today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.9% today, at $92.96 a barrel to close the April contract, after the EIA reported a surprise drop in crude supplies (more coverage here). May futures were up 1.1% at $93.50 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 1.3% at $108.79 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.5% today at about $3.95 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.4% today at $1,611.30 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 56 points to 14,511.73 (0.39%), the NASDAQ rose about 25 points (0.78%) to 3,254.19, and the S&P 500 rose 0.67% or more than 10 points to 1,558.71.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) cut to ‘neutral’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch; Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) cut to ‘underperform’ at Wells Fargo; Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) reinstated as ‘outperform’ with a price target of $30 at Credit Suisse; Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) reiterated as ‘outperform’ with a price target of $600 at Credit Suisse; and BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley (more coverage here).

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) is up 4.1% at $42.40 after posting a new 52-week high of $43.23 earlier today; Cintas Corp. (NASDAQ: CTAS)is down 5.6% at $43.37; Fuel Tech Inc. (NASDAQ: FTEK) is down 5.2% at $4.24; Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM) is up 10.5% at $49.94 after posting a new 52-week high of $50.49 earlier today; FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) is down 7% at $99.05 (more coverage here); General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is up 2.8% at $47.72 after posting a new 52-week high of $48.02 earlier today (more coverage here); and Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) is up 5.8% at $43.81 after posting a new 52-week high of $43.89 earlier today (more coverage here).

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL), Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL), Tumi Holdings Inc. (NYSE: TUMI), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU), Movado Group Inc. (NYSE: MOV), and Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) is up 7.9% at $16.22. The smartphone maker got a big upgrade today, just before the new phone becomes available in the U.S. More coverage here.

Obagi Medical Products Inc. (NASDAQ: OMPI) is up 28.1% at $19.72 a new 52-week high. The specialty drug firm is being acquired by Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) for $344 million in cash.

Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) is up 20% at $1.26. The drugmaker’s stock was pounded earlier this week when it cut 75% of its workforce. Today’s rise is likely just an adjustment to a 60%+ loss in response to that announcement.

Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 8:58 a.m. – Flash PMI manufacturing index
  • 9:00 a.m. – FHFA house price index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales
  • 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
  • 10:00 a.m. – Leading indicators
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 1:00 p.m. – Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) auction
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

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