U.S. equity markets opened mixed this morning following a blizzard of data releases on the U.S. economy. Before that data came out, however, there was some positive data out of both Europe and Asia. In Europe, the eurozone trade surplus came in much higher than expected and the consumer price index rose just 1.2% year-over-year. In Asia, Japan reported an annualized GDP growth rate of 3.5% and a drop in the GDP deflator of 1.2%, mixed signals at best. In the U.S., new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected and the Philadelphia Fed survey fell when an increase was expected, and new housing starts were sharply lower on a steep drop in new construction of multi-family residences.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.28% today, now at 83.5980. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.1% at 624.91. WTI crude oil closed up 0.9%, at $95.16 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.2% at $103.93 a barrel. Natural gas is down 3.3% today at about $3.94 per million BTUs following a larger-than-expected addition to U.S. inventories<<LINK>>. Gold settled down 0.7% today at $1,386.90.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 42 points to 15,233.22 (-0.28%), the NASDAQ fell more than 6 points (-0.18%) to 3,465.24, and the S&P 500 fell 0.50% or more than 8 points to 1,650.47.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Barrick Gold Corp (NYSE: ABX) was cut to ‘underperform’ at Macquarie;
- Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) cut to ‘neutral’ with a $20 price target at J.P. Morgan;
- Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $64 at Stifel Nicolaus;
- Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) raised to ‘overweight’ with a price target of $65 at Morgan Stanley; and
- SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) raised to ‘outperform’ at Cowen Securities.
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:
- Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS) is up 2.6% at $91.36 after posting a new 52-week high of $92.93 earlier today;
- Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) is down 4.1% at $36.78;
- Skechers USA Inc. (NYSE: SKX) is down 3.6% at $20.64;
- E Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NYSE: DANG) is up 5.3% at $5.20;
- Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) is up 4.6% at $51.97;
- ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) is down 14.5% at $1.89; and
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is down 2.1% at $78.21.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN), and Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE: SSI).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is up 13.1% at $23.98, after posting a new 52-week high of $24.24 earlier today. The networking equipment giant posted strong earnings last night.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) is down 13.4% at $3.80. The chipmaker’s shares took a beating today after Goldman said that the stock was overpriced.
Stay tuned for Friday. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota is giving a speech. We have (also) noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 9:55 a.m. – University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index
- 10:00 a.m. – Leading indicators