U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning as overnight trading in gold saw the beginnings of the biggest one-day drop in the yellow metal’s price in 30 years (more coverage here). Markets in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. all took a turn getting beaten up today. In Asia, a weak report on China’s first quarter GDP growth came in lower than expected, and added to the woes brought on by gold. In Europe, the only economic data point out today was the eurozone’s international trade surplus, which was higher than expected. In the U.S., the Empire State manufacturing index (more coverage here) was lower and the National Association of Home Builders reported another slide in builder confidence (more coverage here). But today’s dive was pretty much down to gold.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.10% today, now at 82.387. The GSCI commodity index is down 1.3% at 623.16. WTI crude oil closed down 2.8% today, at $88.71 a barrel, its lowest level of the year. Brent crude trades down 2.6% at $100.45 a barrel. The crude market was exceptionally hard hit today (more coverage here). Natural gas is down 1.7% today at about $4.13 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 9.3% today at $1,361.10 an ounce, following the largest one-day drop in 30 years and the lowest settlement in more than 2 years..
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 201 points to 14,664.27 (-1.79%), the NASDAQ fell more than 78 points (-2.38%) to 3,216.49, and the S&P 500 fell -2.30% or more than 36 points to 1,552.38.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) raised to ‘buy’ at UBS; Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup; Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan; Gold Fields Inc. (NYSE: GFI) raised to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; and Goldman Sachs GRoup Inc. (NYSE: GS) started as ‘market perform’ at KBW.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) is up 0.7% at $45.10 (more coverage here); The Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) is down 3.9% at $16.61; and First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) is down 4.1% at $38.36.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY), BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK), Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), and The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Spring Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) is up 13.9% at $7.08 after posting a new 52-week high of $7.33 earlier today. The wireless carrier received a $25.5 billion offer from Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) this morning, more than $5 billion more than the offer from Softbank now under consideration. More coverage here.
Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) is down 11.9% at $19.93 after posting a new 52-week low of $19.86 earlier today. The gold mining company — and virtually every mining company — was hit hard today by the collapse in gold prices. Barrick also fell 8.5% on Friday. More coverage here.
Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: LIFE) is up 7.5% at $73.11 after posting a new 52-week high of $73.50 earlier today. The laboratory equipment maker is being acquired by Thermo Fisher Inc. (NYSE: TMO) for about $15.5 billion, including debt. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Tuesday. Fed Vice-chair Janet Yellen, Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke, and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – Consumer price index
- 8:30 a.m. – Housing starts
- 9:15 a.m. – Industrial production
- 11:30 a.m. – 4-week Treasury bill auctions