Closing Bell for Wednesday on Wall Street: Markets Open Lower, Stock Prices Rise All Day

U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning on relatively little economic data. In Europe, Germany reported that industrial production rose 1.2%, while a house price index in the U.K.rose 1.1% month-over-month. In Asia, China reported a stronger-than-expected trade surplus of $18.16 billion in April (more coverage here). In the U.S., demand for home mortgages rose, primarily on rising demand for refinancing (more coverage here). Share prices turned higher shortly after trading opened this morning, and indexes remained positive all day, with all three major indexes posting a decent gain by the closing bell.

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.43% today, now at 81.897. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.4% at 630.47. WTI crude oil closed up 1.1%, at $96.62 a barrel, following today’s report on inventories (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.2% at $104.21 a barrel, creating the lowest spread between WTI and Brent in recent memory. Natural gas is up 1.4% today at about $3.98 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 1.7% today at $1,473.70.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 48 points to 15,104.97 (0.32%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 17 points (0.49%) to 3,413.27, and the S&P 500 rose 0.41% or nearly 7 points to 1,632.68.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:

  • Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) cut to ‘cautiousl’ at ISI group;
  • Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) Raised to ‘buy’ at Sterne Agee;
  • U.S. Auto Parts Inc. (NASDAQ: PRTS) raised to ‘buy’ at Roth Capital;
  • Plains All American Pipeline LP (NYSE: PAA) cut to ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; and
  • Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) cut to ‘underperform at Baird.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:

  • American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK) is down 0.9% at $41.61;
  • Demand Media Inc. (NYSE: DMD) is up 2.9% at $8.83;
  • Fuel Tech Inc. (NASDAQ: FTEK) is down 10.3% at $3.59;
  • Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) is up 6.3% at $5.62;
  • Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) is up 0.9% at $34.65;
  • SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE: SD) is down 3.5% at $5.20;
  • Zillow Inc. (NYSE: Z) is down 9.9% at $56.70;
  • AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is down 9.8% at $37.36 (more coverage here);
  • Enbridge Inc. (NYSE: ENB) is up fractionally at $47.34;
  • The Wendy’s Co. (NYSE: WEN) is down 5.7% at $5.77; and
  • Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is up 10.5% at $13.30.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN), Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR), Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST), Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX), Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX), Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG), Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. (NYSE: CDE), and Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) is up 18.9% at $1.37. The biopharmaceutical firm had no news today, but seemed to catch a wave from Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN).

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) is up 17.3% at $21.59, a new 52-week high. The video game company posted good results and forecast a strong current quarter.

Fusion-io Inc. (NYSE: FIO) is down 19.4% at $14.51. The storage company’s CEO and founder resigned today.

Stay tuned for Thursday. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser 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
  • 10:00 a.m. – Wholesale trade
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
  • 1:00 p.m. – 30-year bond auction
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

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