Closing Bell for Friday on Wall Street: Markets Open Lower, Fail to Break Out

U.S. equity markets opened sharply lower again this morning, but this time reacting to yesterday’s comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the Fed could slow its bond purchases in the next few months. In the U.S., orders for durable goods made a strong showing and propelled stocks off their morning lows. In Europe, the second estimate on German GDP showed first-quarter growth of 0.1%, as expected, and the country’s business climate index rose more than expected. There was no economic data of note in Asia today, but Japan’s Nikkei made a modest comeback after yesterday’s collapse. By the closing bell, only the DJIA managed to cross break-even line.

U.S. markets are closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.27% today, now at 83.5710. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.2% at 624.86. WTI crude oil closed down 0.1%, at $94.15 a barrel, to close the week down about 2%. Brent crude trades up 0.2% at $102.59 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.6% today at about $4.24 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.4% today at $1,387.50, about 1.6% higher than last week’s close.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 9 points to 15,303.33(0.06%), the NASDAQ fell less than 1 point1 (-0.01%) to 3,459.14, and the S&P 500fell -0.06% or less than 1 point to 1,649.60.

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

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:

Before markets open Tuesday morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Ziopharm Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ: ZIOP) is up 29.2% at $2.61. The cancer drug company had no news, which is often interpreted to be good news. Perhaps its investors looking for another biopharma company to match the price runup in MannKind Corp (NASDAQ: MNKD) earlier this week.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is down 3.7% at $24.12. The social media company appears about to do battle with Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) over an Israeli company that makes a smartphone traffic app.

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) is down 13.6% at $50.33. The department store owner posted another big net loss in the first quarter.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. U.S. markets are closed on Monday. We have noted the following events on Tuesday’s schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 9:00 a.m. – S&P Case-Shiller house price index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Conference Board consumer sentiment index
  • 10:00 a.m. – Richmond Fed manufacturing index
  • 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey
  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auction
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2-year note auction

Have a great holiday weekend!

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