U.S. equity markets opened slightly higher this morning following the report on U.S. jobless numbers (more coverage here). In Europe, the only data out today showed that U.K. retail sales fell 0.7%, slightly better than expected. In Asia, house prices in China gained 3.6% in March, pushing Shanghai to a higher close. In the U.S., the leading indicators came in lower than expected (more coverage here) and the Philly Fed index posted a surprisingly low number (more coverage here). The lower open this morning simply continued sliding until the last hour of trading.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.14% today, now at 82.563. The GSCI commodity index is down 1.5% at 600.97. WTI crude oil closed up 1.2% today, at $XX a barrel. Brent crude trades 1.77% at $100.39 a barrel. Natural gas is up 4.8% today at about $4.40 per million BTUs, after the weekly storage report showed a smaller-than-expected build in inventories (more coverage here). Gold settled up 0.7% today at $1,392.50 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 79 points to 14,539.14 (-0.54%), the NASDAQ fell more than 38 points (-1.20%) to 3,166.36, and the S&P 500 fell -0.67% or more than 10 points to 1,541.63.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Qiagen NV (NASDAQ: QGEN) started as ‘sell’ at Citigroup; Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) started as ‘overweight’ at HSBC; HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC) raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch; American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) started as ‘outperform’ with a price target of $50 at BMO Capital Markets; and FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) cut to ‘underperform’ at RBC Capital Markets.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) is up 1.7% at $65.20 (more coverage here); SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) is down 6.7% at $52.00 (more coverage here); eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) is down 5.6% at $52.98 (more coverage here); Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) is up 0.4% at $37.95 (more coverage here); AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) is up 1.7% at $43.22 (more coverage here); Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) is up 0.3% at $28.09; Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is down 4.7% at $20.47 (more coverage here); Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) is down 0.4% at $XX; Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU) is up 8.2% at $20.58 (more coal coverage here); PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) is up 2.8% at $81.08 after posting a new 52-week high of $83.44 earlier today (more coverage here); Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) is down 2.5% at $91.65 (more coverage here); and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is up 3% at $51.01 after posting a new 52-week high of $51.67 (more coverage here).
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD), Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF), Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG), E*Trade Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: ETFC), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON), McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), Rockwell Collins Inc. (NYSE: COL), and Schlumberger NV (NYSE: SLB).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is down 2.7% at $392.06. The tech giant’s shares will close below $400 for the first time in more than a year.
Stay tuned for Friday. Fed Governor Jeremy Stein is giving a speech. There are no other events on tomorrow’s schedule.