U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following better-than-expected reports on eurozone PMI. The improvements still did not push eurozone country PMI readings into the expansion area, and the EU’s statistical branch, Eurostat, reported that eurozone unemployment is at a record high (more coverage here). Asian markets were mixed, with little news or data out today. In the U.S., factory orders came in better than expected (more coverage here), and a rule change on Medicare and Medicaid payments boosted healthcare stocks. New car sales from major U.S. makers came in at multiyear highs.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.23% today, now at 82.927. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.3% at 653.1, with commodities prices mostly lower as concern over corn prices continues (more coverage here). WTI crude oil closed up 0.1% today, at $97.19 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.7% at $110.57 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.1% today at about $3.97 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 1.6% today at $1,575.90 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 89 points to 14,661.63 (0.61%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 16 points (0.48%) to 3,254.86, and the S&P 500 rose 0.51% or about 8 points to 1,570.22. both the DJIA and the S&P 500 posted new all-time highs today.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) started as ‘neutral’ at UBS; Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) cut to ‘perform’ at Oppenheimer; Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) started as ‘buy’ with a price target of $27 at UBS; Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) cut to ‘sell’ at UBS; and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) cut to ‘sell’ with a price target of $16 at Goldman Sachs.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in just one price move today: McCormick & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MKC) is down 0.3% at $72.46 after posting a new 52-week high of $73.70 earlier today.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Team Inc. (NYSE: TISI), ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG), Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON), and Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHN).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
BGC Partners Inc. (NASDAQ: BGCP) is up 47.5% at $5.68. The financial services firm has sold its eSpeed bond unit.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) is up 4.9% at $61.83 after posting a new 52-week high of $63.95 earlier today. The health insurer is getting a boost from the increase in Medicare and Medicaid patients announced early this morning.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) is down 8.1% at $14.93. The airlines reported weak numbers for March and cut its first-quarter revenue forecast.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. San Francisco Fed President John Williams and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 8:15 a.m. – ADP employment report
- 10:00 a.m. – ISM non-manufacturing index
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report