U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning and trailed slowly downward all day. The situation in Cyprus was unchanged this morning (more coverage here). In Europe, both manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMI fell short of expectations in Germany and France, weighing down equity futures in the U.S. and trading in Europe (more coverage here). Spain’s trade deficit came in much worse than expected and U.K. retail sales were higher than expectations. In Asia, North Korea threatened U.S. military bases in Okinawa and Guam (more coverage here). Japan’s trade deficit hit a record and China’s PMI rose more than expected. In the U.S., new claims for unemployment benefits were lower than expected (more coverage here), while the Philly Fed survey came in higher than forecast and the leading indicators were reported inline (more coverage here). Existing home sales rose in February (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.01% today, now at 82.761. The GSCI commodity index is up 1% at 648.70, with commodities prices mostly higher again today. WTI crude oil closed down 1.1% today, at $92.45 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 1.2% at $107.43 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.7% today at about $3.93 per million BTUs after a smaller than expected draw on inventories last week (more coverage here). Gold settled up 0.4% today at $1,613.80 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA more than 90 points to 14,421.34 (-0.62%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 32 points (-0.97%) to 3,222.60, and the S&P 500 fell -0.83% or nearly 13 points to 1,545.81.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $115 at Argus; Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank; Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) raised to ‘outperform’ with a price target of $27 at Oppenheimer; Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch; and Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) started as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) is down 4.6% at $18.58; Tumi Holdings Inc. (NYSE: TUMI) is down 0.6% at $23.71; KB Home (NYSE: KBH) is up 3.4% at $22.30 after posting a new 52-week high of $22.38 earlier today (more coverage here); Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) is up 1.4% at $64.77 (more coverage here); Movado Group Inc. (NYSE: MOV) is down 10.5% at $33.21; and Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) is up 3.6% at $58.18.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE: SLW), Vringo Inc. (NASDAQ: VRNG), Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) is down 9.3% at $32.45. The software company’s results came in below expectations and the forecast wasn’t so hot either.
Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) is up 17.3% at $1.48. The drugmaker’s stock was pounded earlier this week when it cut 75% of its workforce. The stock has risen from the dead in the last two days, gaining back a good portion of the 60% hit it took.
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAD) is up 23.6% at $8.22 after posting a new 52-week high of $8.81 earlier today. The development stage biopharmaceutical firm reported good data from a trial of its psychosis treatment.
Stay tuned for Friday. Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin is giving a breakfast speech. We have not other events on tomorrow’s schedule.
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