U.S. equity markets opened slightly higher this morning on another day when very little economic data was released anywhere around the globe. There was no data released at all in the U.S., and in Asia, Hong Kong’s inflation rate rose to 4% in the past 12 months, ahead of projections. In Europe, German PPI rose 0.1%, which was less than expected, and the U.K.’s CPI came in at 2.4%, below the estimate of 2.6%. Core CPI in the U.K. came in at 2%, well short of the predicted 2.3%. A substantial amount of U.S. economic data will be announced over the next few days to make up for the dearth of the last few days.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.14% today, now at 83.8540. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.5% at 635.02. WTI crude oil closed down 0.6%, at $96.16 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.9% at $103.90 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.5% today at about $4.19 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.5% today at $1,377.60.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 52 points to 15,387.42 (0.34%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 6 points (0.16%) to 3,502.12, and the S&P 500 rose 0.17% or nearly 3 points to 1,669.16.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: LIFE) cut to ‘underperform’ at CLSA;
- Beazer Homes USA Inc. (NYSE: BZH) cut to ‘neutral’ at Sterne Agee;
- Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) started as ‘buy’ at Jefferies;
- Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) reinstated as ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs; and
- Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) started as ‘overweight’ at Piper Jaffray.
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:
- Kid Brands Inc. (NYSE: KID) is down 0.6% at $1.58;
- TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO) is up 2.5% at $12.97;
- Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) is down 3.7% at $25.83;
- Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) is up 1.2% at $52.83 after posting a new 52-week high of $54.25 earlier today;
- The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is up 2.8% at $78.89 after posting a new 52-week high of $79.47 earlier today;
- Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) is up 9.8% at $13.48 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.60 earlier today;
- TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) is up 0.8% at $51.76; and
- Vodafone plc (NASDAQ: VOD) is up 0.1% at $30.14.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU), NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP), American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW), Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), and Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) is up 19.3% at $3.70 after posting a new 52-week high of $4.83 earlier today. The Chinese solar panel maker increased its first quarter shipment forecast, although year-over-year volume will still be lower.
SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) is down 11.1% at $45.85. The solar energy installer is giving back some recent gains, as investors may have figured out that there is a limit to optimism.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify in front of a joint House/Senate committee and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 2:00 p.m. – FOMC minutes released