24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- March 25, 2013: Markets Rise, Then Fall on Cyprus News (BBRY, WFM, JCP, CMCSA, ARG, APOL, DG, JASO, FMCN, SONC, PRTS, ALU, GRPN, SBUX)

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following an agreement between the government of Cyprus and the “troika” of the IMF, the EU, and the ECB (more coverage here). There was no economic data of note release in either the U.S. or Asia today, and only a couple of minor releases in Europe. Italy’s consumer confidence fell a bit more than expected and Spain’s PPI rose less than expected. The Dutch finance minister effectively killed the morning rally by saying that the Cyprus solution would serve as a template for dealing with any new eurozone banking crises. He later clarified the statement, but it should not take long for eurozone depositors whose deposits are not insured to get their money moved into insured accounts or to another bank outside the eurozone. That will have a longer term impact on Europe’s economy (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index rose 0.55% today, now at 82.825. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.3% at 646.50, with commodities prices mixed again today. WTI crude oil closed up 1.2% today, at $94.81 a barrel, after rising above $95 early this morning. Brent crude trades up 0.5% at $108.20 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.5% today at about $3.87 per million BTUs. Gold settled down fractionally today at $1,604.50 an ounce, after sinking to below $1,590 an ounce on the news from Cyprus.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 64 points to 14,447.99 (-0.44%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 10 points (-0.30%) to 3,235.30, and the S&P 500 fell -0.33% or about 5 points to 1,551.70.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) cut to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs; Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM) cut to ‘neutral’ at Piper Jaffray; J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) cut to ‘underperform’ at BMO Capital Markets; Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) started as ‘overweight’ at J.P. Morgan and started as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; and Airgas Inc. (NYSE: ARG) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in several price moves today, including these: Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) is up 6.8% at $18.20 (more coverage here); Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) is up 1.8% at $50.96 (more coverage here); and JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) is down 11.7% at $3.67 (more coverage here).

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Focus Media Holding Ltd. (NASDAQ: FMCN), Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ: SONC), and U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. (NASDAQ: PRTS).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is down 5% at $1.33. The network and communications company had no news today, but heavy volume might indicate some (small) profit-taking.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) is down 4.3% at $14.27. The smartphone maker was downgraded this morning and last week’s U.S. launch was mostly a yawn. More coverage here.

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is up 5.2% at $5.98. The daily deals company also had no news today, but could still be basking in the afterglow of last week’s first-ever Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) gift card offer.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 9:00 a.m. – S&P Case-Shiller home price index
  • 10:00 a.m. – New home sales
  • 10:00 a.m. – Conference Board consumer confidence index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Richmond Fed manufacturing index
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2-year note auction

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