24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- March 22, 2013: Markets Turn Higher Awaiting Cyprus Solution (KSS, LNKD, BEAM, ADTN, FDO, MU, NKE, SLW, VRNG, DRI, TIF, APOL, DG, JASO, MU, NKE, BBRY)

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning and trading stayed positive territory all day. No solution has yet been agreed to the Cyprus banking crisis (more coverage here), but the delay has had little impact on U.S. stocks. There were no data releases in Asia or the U.S. today, and releases in Europe were muted as well. In Germany, the Ifo business climate index came in lower than expected (more coverage here). Fitch announced a ratings watch on U.K. sovereign debt with an eye toward a possible downgrade (more coverage here), but that did not move equity prices either.

The U.S. dollar index fell 0.42% today, now at 82.392. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.6% at 644.55, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed up 1.4% today, at $93.71 a barrel, to finish the week down just 0.1%. Brent crude trades up 0.2% at $107.66 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1% today at about $3.94 per million BTUs after rising above $4.00 briefly. Gold settled down 0.5% today at $1,606.10 an ounce, but finished the week up 0.9%, the third straight week the yellow metal has closed higher (more gold coverage here).

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 91 points to 14,512.26 (0.63%), the NASDAQ rose more than 22 points (0.70%) to 3,245.00, and the S&P 500 rose 0.72% or about 11 points to 1,556.89.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) cut to ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank; LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) started as ‘sector perform’ at RBC Capital; Beam Inc. (NYSE: BEAM) started as ‘hold’ at Stifel Nicolaus; ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) raised to ‘market perform’ at Raymond James; and Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) raised to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank, but cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE: SLW) is up 0.9% at $31.26; Vringo Inc. (NYSEMKT: VRNG) is up 0.4% at $2.85; Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) is up 1.2% at $49.55; and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) is up 2% at $69.24 (more coverage here).

Before markets open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL), Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG), and JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) is up 11.4% at $10.10 after posting a new 52-week high of $10.27 earlier today. The semiconductor maker reported results that were better than expected and snagged a few upgrades from analysts as well.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) is up 11% at $59.48 after posting a new 52-week high of $60.25 earlier today. The sports apparel company reported better-than-expected earnings, but missed revenues on lower sales in China. More coverage here.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) is down 8% at $14.85. The smartphone maker’s newest phone was launched in the U.S. today, but analysts expect a fizzle. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Monday. New York Fed President William Dudley and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
  • 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey
  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions

Have a great weekend!

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