June 27, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning after the reports on new U.S. jobless claims and personal income and a blizzard of data from Europe. Eurozone consumer confidence is still low, but it was up slightly and unemployment improved a bit in Germany. The European Union has also agreed on a bailout proposal for the eurozone’s banks. In Asia, the People’s Bank of China withheld liquidity again today, but promised to make funds available to larger lenders, causing the Shibor rate to fall by 52 basis points. Pending sales of U.S. homes hit a seven-year high and June new car sales appear headed for another good month.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.03% today, now at 82.9550. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.2% at 610.93. WTI crude oil closed up about 1.6% today, at $97.05 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 1.2% at $102.82 a barrel. Natural gas is down 4.6% today at about $3.56 per million BTUs after the EIA storage report showed a larger than expected inventory build. Gold for August delivery settled down 1.5% today at $1,211.60, the lowest close in nearly three years on the most active contract, and fell below $1,200 in electronic trading.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 114 points to 15,024.49 (0.77%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 26 points (0.76%) to 3,401.86, and the S&P 500 rose 0.62% or about 10 points to 1,613.20.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCI) and TELUS (NYSE: TU)cut to ‘market perform’ at RBC Capital;
- Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) raised to ‘buy’ at Stifel Nicolaus;
- Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) started as ‘neutral’ at Lazard Capital;
- GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $5 at Canaccord Genuity; and
- Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) raised to ‘buy’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:
- Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) is up 0.2% at $70.12;
- Paychex Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX) is down 4% at $36.46;
- ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) is up 5.4% at $35.16 after a decent earnings report;
- KB Home (NYSE: KBH) is down 0.4% at $19.80 following a good earnings report; and
- Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHN) is down 3.3% at $23.65.
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
National Bank Greece (NYSE: NBG) is down 22.9% at $3.14 after posting a new 52-week low of $2.94 earlier today. The bank’s troubles are well-documented, but today’s sell-off followed a report that the government may lift its ban on short sales of the bank’s stock.
Aratana Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: PETX) is up 35.8% at $8.15. The development stage biopharmaceutical company for pets held its IPO today, offering 5.75 million shares at $6.00 a share..
Stay tuned for Friday. Fed Governor Jeremy Stein, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, and San Francisco Fed President John Williams are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 9:45 a.m. – Chicago PMI
- 9:55 a.m. – Consumer sentiment