U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning and both the DJIA and the S&P 500 climbed to new intra-day highs (more coverage here). The Fed mistakenly released FOMC minutes early to some Congressional staffers this morning, so the minutes were released to all before markets opened, helping to stoke today’s buying (more coverage here). In Asia, China posted a surprise trade deficit, entirely due to a 14% increase in imports. In Europe, industrial production increased in France, but dropped in Spain and Italy by more than expected. The “troika” has proposed to extend bailout loans to Ireland and Portugal by seven years. In the U.S., mortgage applications rose (more coverage here) and the Treasury’s auction of $21 billion in 10-year notes saw weaker demand as equities ruled today.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.24% today, now at 82.513. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.8% at 637.09. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5% today, at $94.64 a barrel, following an inventory report that showed a smaller-than-forecast build in stockpiles (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.5% at $105.87 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.8% today at about $4.12 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 1.8% today at $1,558.80 an ounce, its largest one day drop since November.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 127 points to 14,800.78 (0.87%), the NASDAQ rose more than 59 points (1.83%) to 3,297.25, and the S&P 500 rose 1.22% or about 20 points to 1,587.71.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) cut to ‘sell’ with price target of $10 at Goldman Sachs; Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) cut to ‘neutral’ at D.A. Davidson; International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) raised to ‘buy’ at UBS; Icahn Enterprises LP (NASDAQ: IEP) started as ‘buy’ with a price target of $66 at Jefferies; and Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC) cut to ‘hold’ at Deutsche Bank.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PSMT) is up 5.7% at $84.77; Carmax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) is up 3.7% at $43.22 after posting a new 52-week high of $43.42 earlier today; Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) is up 0.4% at $48.83; Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) is up 1% at $60.40 (more coverage here); Jinkosolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) is down 9% at $5.28; and Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN) is down 13.9% at $22.48.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN), Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY), NovaGold Resources Inc. (NYSEMKT: NG), Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR), and SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) is down 8.7% at $24.38 after posting a new 52-week low of $24.30 earlier today. The gold miner is being slammed following a court decision that will suspend operations at its new Chilean mine.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is up 4.5% at $3.52. The mobile phone maker had no news today, but the company said earlier this week that it is launching a new phone with T-Mobile USA in May.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Retailers will be reporting same-store sales for March throughout the day. Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 8:30 a.m. – Import and export prices
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 30-year note auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply
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