Closing Bell for Wednesday on Wall Street: Markets Open Lower, Slide Further on Data

U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning following smaller-than-expected gain in ADP’s employment report. Other data out before the opening bell also weighed on stocks, including a drop new mortgage applications and weak productivity data

. In Europe, retail sales were down in the eurozone and the GDP contraction reported for the first quarter of 2013 was left unchanged. Non-manufacturing PMI fell only slightly in May. In Asia, Australia’s GDP rose less than expected and China’s non-manufacturing PMI ticked up. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to grow the Japanese economy did not impress investors, sending the Nikkei down nearly 4% by closing time. The release of the Fed’s Beige Book had little impact on today’s lackluster share prices.

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.21% today, now at 82.5980. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.5% at 625.64. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5%, at $93.74 a barrel following a large drop in U.S. inventories. Brent crude trades up about 0.1% at $103.30 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.1% today at about $3.99 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.1% today at $1,398.50.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 217 points to 14,960 (-1.43%), the NASDAQ fell nearly 44 points (-1.27%) to 3,401.48, and the S&P 500 fell -1.38% or more than 22 points to 1,608.90.

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

  • Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) cut to ‘neutral’ at Sterne Agee;
  • Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Barclays;
  • Inc. (NYSE: CRM) maintained as ‘buy’ and added to Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs;
  • Annaly Capital Management Inc. (NYSE: NLY) started as ‘neutral’ at Credit Suisse; and
  • Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS) raised to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in the following price changes today:

  • Mattress Firm Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: MFRM)is up 6.1% at $39.84 after posting a new 52-week high of $41.20 earlier today and
  • Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV)is up 0.8% at $6.02.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY), ANN Inc. (NYSE: ANN), Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN), J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM), and Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ: TITN).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Kandi Technologies Group Inc. (NASDAQ: KNDI) is up 36.4% at $5.32 after posting a new 52-week high of $6.94 earlier today. The China-based electric car maker’s all-electric sedan has been approved by the Chinese government for subsidies and buyer incentives.

Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: HNR) is up 28.6% at $3.60. The oil & gas exploration company posted much better earnings this morning than the market was expecting.

JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) is down 10.3% at $6.82. The China-based solar panel received a downgrade today and the eurozone has imposed massive tariffs on solar panels imported from China.

Stay tuned for Thursday. Retail chain stores will be reporting May same-store sales. Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 7:30 a.m. – Challenger job cut report
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:00 a.m. – Quarterly services survey
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply