24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- April 22, 2013: Markets Close Higher After Rocky Start

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning, but struggled to stay in positive territory for most of the morning. There was little economic data released today. In Asia, Hong Kong’s consumer price index rose to 3.6%. The weakening yen boosted the Nikkei again today and a press report that non-performing loans in China now total 20.7% of all loans weighed on Shanghai. In the U.S., the report on existing home sales was weaker than expected (more coverage here), and the Chicago Fed’s national activity index turned negative in March (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.08% today, now at 82.650. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.3% at 607.50. WTI crude oil closed up 0.9% today, at $88.76 a barrel, closing the May futures contract. Brent crude trades up 0.8% at $100.45 a barrel. Natural gas is down 3.2% today at about $4.27 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 1.8% today at $1,421.20 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 20 points to 14,567.33 (0.14%), the NASDAQ rose more than 27 points (0.86%) to 3,233.55, and the S&P 500 rose 0.47% or more than 7 points to 1,562.50.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) cut to ‘sell’ at Argus; Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) cut to ‘sell’ at SocGen; Newmont Mining Co. (NYSE: NEM) cut to ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank; Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) raised to ‘neutral’ at B. Riley (our Netflix earnings preview is here); and AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) raised to ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is up 2.9% at $82.78 (more coverage here); Check Point Software Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: CHKP) is up 0.7% at $45.62; Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) is up 5.5% at $39.26 (more coverage here); Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) is up 3.5% at $46.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $48.46 earlier today; and NVR Corp. (NYSE: NVR) is down 8.7% at $919.04.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Netflix Inc., Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD), Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE: SWC), Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN), AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS), Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI), Coach Inc. (NYSE: COH), Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL), Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH), and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Power-One Inc. (NASDAQ: PWER) is up 56.4% at $6.32. The maker of solar inverters is being acquired by ABB (NYSE: ABB) for about $1 billion. More coverage here.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) is up 4% at $30.94. The software giant is up on news that an activist investor has poured some $2 billion into the company’s stock. More coverage here.

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is down 2.1% at $21.30. The conglomerate’s stock was downgraded by analysts at J.P. Morgan today. More coverage here.

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

  • 8:58 a.m. – Flash PMI manufacturing index
  • 9:00 a.m. – FHFA house price index
  • 10:00 a.m. – New home sales
  • 10:00 a.m. – Richmond Fed manufacturing index
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2-year note auction

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