24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell -- Monday: Markets Open Higher, S&P Closes on New High

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning after the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that personal income and spending both rose by 0.2%, which was slightly higher than expected for spending and slightly lower than expectations for income (more coverage here). We also noted the sharp drop in spending on energy and the impact that could have on oil and gasoline prices for the rest of this year (more coverage here). In Europe, new data was limited to Italian business confidence (down), Spanish retail sales (also down, but not as much as expected), and eurozone business and consumer survey (more coverage here). Italian government borrowing costs posted a two-year low (more coverage here). In Asia, both Japanese and Chinese markets were closed for a holiday. U.S. pending home sales rose in March, reversing a drop in February sales (more coverage here).

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.42% today, now at 82.159. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.5% at 622.29. WTI crude oil closed up 1.6%, at $94.50 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.5% at $103.72 a barrel. Natural gas is up 4% today at about $4.39 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 1% today at $1,467.40 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 106 points to 14,818.83 (0.72%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 28 points (0.85%) to 3,307.02, and the S&P 500 rose 0.72% or more than 11 points to 1,593.59, a new high.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) raised to ‘buy’ at UBS; Petroleo Brasileiro SA (NYSE: PBR), aka Petrobras, raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch; Union Pacific Co. (NYSE: UNP) cut to ‘hold’ at TD Securities; Gold Fields Inc. (NYSE: GFI) cut to ‘neutral’ at HSBC; and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) raised to ‘outperform’ at Macquarie.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN) is up 3.6% at $60.76; Loews Corp. (NYSE: L) is up 0.4% at $44.63 (more coverage here); Senior Housing Properties Trust (NYSE: SNH) is down 1.4% at $28.18; and Inc. (NASDAQ: SOHU) is down 0.2% at $50.66.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Embraer SA (NYSE: ERJ), Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX), General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP), Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF), Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ), Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM), Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD), 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD), Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET), Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (NYSE: BUD), Avon Products Inc. (NYSE: AVP), BP plc (NYSE: BP), Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: HNR), Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC), Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP), Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI), United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X), and Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (NYSE: PBR) is up 6.6% at $19.23. Petrobras, as it’s known, reported lousy earnings, but it forecast growth going forward, added to a possible restart of drilling by Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) in the Frade field following a year of inactivity due to a spill.

Conceptus Inc. (NASDAQ: CPTS) is up 19.5% at $30.95. The medical device maker is being acquired by Germany’s Bayer AG $1.1 billion.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is down 3.6% at $3.23. The social games maker had no news today, but is giving back some of Friday’s gains, which followed losses earlier last week on a weak earnings report.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins a two-day meeting. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Employment cost index
  • 9:00 a.m. – S&P Case-Shiller house price index
  • 9:45 a.m. – Chicago purchasing manager’s index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Conference Board consumer confidence index
  • 11:30 a.m. – 4- and 52-week bill auctions
  • 3:00 p.m. – Farm prices

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