Closing Bell for Thursday on Wall Street: Markets Recoup from Low Open to Post Gain

U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning, but gathered steam following encouraging reports on new claims for jobless benefits (down) and retail sales (up). There was little economic data from either Europe or Asia today, although Germany did report a drop in wholesale prices. In Asia, markets reopened in Shanghai and Hong Kong today following a three-day holiday, and the markets closed down more than 2% in each city. Japan’s Nikkei lost 6.4% again today and is now down more than 20% from last month’s highs.

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.25% today, now at 80.9260. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.2% at 623.62. WTI crude oil closed up 0.8% today, at $96.69 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.7% at $104.26 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.8% today at about $3.81 per million BTUs, following today’s inline inventory report. Gold settled up 1.1% today at $1,392.00.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 181 points to 15,176.24 (1.21%), the NASDAQ rose about 45 points (1.32%) to 3,445.37, and the S&P 500 rose 1.48% or nearly 24 points to 1,636.38.

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

  • AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (NYSE: AU) cut to ‘sell’ at SocGen;
  • Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) started as ‘overweight’ at Morgan Stanley;
  • Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) started as ‘buy’ with a price target of $73 at Sterne Agee;
  • International Paper Co. (NYSE: IP) raised to Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs; and
  • Waste Management Inc. (NYSE: WM) cut to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves in the last half hour of trading today:

  • H & R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB) is up 1.1% at $28.95;
  • Men’s Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE: MW) is up 5.3% at $37.43; and
  • PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH) is up 9.7% at $122.07.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from Capstone Turbine Corp. (NASDAQ: CPST), Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RH), American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC), and Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Coty Inc. (NYSE: COTY) is down 1.3% at $17.27. The beauty products maker held its IPO today. Because none of the proceeds went back to the company, perhaps it looked like the selling owners were just bailing out.

Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) is up 27.2% at $13.65 after posting a new 52-week high of $13.69 earlier today. The TV station owner is being acquired by Gannett Company Inc. (NYSE: GCI) for $2.2 billion including debt. Gannett’s shares are also up 33.6% at $26.52 after posting a new 52-week high of $26.67 earlier today.

Dynavax Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: DVAX) is down 11.2% at $1.22 after posting a new 52-week low of $1.18 earlier today. The biotechnology stock continues to get hammered over Monday’s announcement of request for more information on the company’s hepatitis B drug from the U.S. FDA.

Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

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