July 3, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning anticipating a blizzard of economic data out of the U.S. Mortgage purchase applications were first out, and down sharply from a week ago. Employment news was generally a little better, with the job-cut report from Challenger down year-over-year, and both the ADP private-sector employment report and the new claims for unemployment benefits. In Europe, another Portuguese cabinet minister resigned and eurozone services PMI declined more than expected. In China, services PMI also declined. To top off the short trading day, there are reports that Egyptian President Morsi is under house arrest and that the military is taking over the government.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.40% today, now at 83.2140. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.8% at 621.03. WTI crude oil traded up 2.3% today, at $101.86 a barrel after a large drop in U.S. inventories and on worries over supplies flowing through the Suez Canal. Brent crude trades up 1.6% at $105.69 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.2% today at about $3.65 per million BTUs following an expected build in storage. Gold for August delivery traded up 0.8% today at $1,253.40.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up about 56 points to 14,988.55 (0.38%), the NASDAQ rose about 10 points (0.30%) to 3,443.67, and the S&P 500 rose 0.08% or more than 1 point to 1,615.41.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) raised to ‘buy’ at Argus;
- Cheniere Energy Partners LP (NYSEMKT: CQP) started as ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital Markets;
- Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $92 at Argus;
- Linn Energy LLC (NASDAQ: LINE) cut to ‘neutral’ at Ladenburg Thalman; and
- Twenty-first Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ: FOXA) started as ‘buy’ with a price target of $36 at Needham.
There were no earnings reports of note since markets closed last night and none are scheduled for the rest of this week.
Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) kicks off the new earnings season on Monday after the markets close.
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Linn Energy LLC (NASDAQ: LINE) is down 16.1% at $22.68 after posting a new 52-week low of $22.35 earlier today. The oil & gas production company continues to slide on its acknowledgement of an SEC inquiry.
Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) is up 14.3% at $7.61. The chipmaker is reported to be seeking a buyer .
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is up 4.6% at $3.42. The social games maker continues its run after naming a new CEO.
We’ll be taking a couple of days off tomorrow and Friday, but stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
- 3:00 p.m. – Consumer credit
Have a great holiday weekend!