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

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