Closing Bell for Wednesday on Wall Street: Markets Open Soft, Close with a Flourish

U.S. equity markets opened slightly lower this morning following a number of data releases related to the U.S. economy. Producer prices declined in April and the New York manufacturing index came in much lower than expected. U.S. industrial production was also lower than expected. There was little significant data out of Asia, but in Europe, the eurozone economy continued to contract in the first quarter. Eurozone GDP fell 0.2% in the first quarter, slightly more than the 0.1% drop expected by economists.

The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.29% today, now at 83.8370. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.4% at 627.87. WTI crude oil closed up 0.1%, at $94.30 a barrel following the release of the EIA’s inventory data. Brent crude trades 1.1% at $103.72 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1% today at about $4.06 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 2% today at $1,396.20.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 60 points to 15,275.15 (0.39%), the NASDAQ rose about 9 points (0.26%) to 3,471.62, and the S&P 500 rose 0.51% or more than 8 points to 1,658.71.

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

  • Golar LNG Ltd. (NASDAQ: GLNG) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs;
  • BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) cut to ‘market perform’ at Bernstein;
  • Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $48 at Argus;
  • Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) raised to ‘buy’ at Citigroup; and
  • Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) cut to ‘underweight’ at Barclays.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in some price changes for reporting companies as of the last half hour of trading today:

  • Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is up 3.7% at $45.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $46.49 earlier today;
  • Primo Water Corp. (NASDAQ: PRMW) is down 7.2% at $1.42;
  • Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSCO) is down 9.9% at $44.61;
  • Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) is down 4.6% at $89.46;
  • First Majestic Silver Corp. (NYSE: AG) is down 9.8% at $10.15 after posting a new 52-week low of $10.13 earlier today; and
  • Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) is up 2.7% at $48.66 after posting a new 52-week high of $48.91 earlier today.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS), Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK), Skechers USA Inc. (NYSE: SKX), E Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NASDAQ: DANG), Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS), ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL), and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) is up 5.2% at $44.40, after posting a new 52-week high of $45.59 earlier today. The biopharmaceutical firm gave an upbeat presentation on its plans for new cancer and heart drugs.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is down 3.6% at $427.92. The PC and consumer electronics product maker is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for leading a price-fixing scheme in the book publishing business.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is up 3.5% at $3.45. The social games producer got a big boost from a purchase of 25 million of the company’s shares by activist investor Jana Partners.

Stay tuned for Thursday. Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, and San Francisco Fed President John Williams are all 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
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply

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