Closing Bell for Wednesday on Wall Street: Markets Open Higher, Inch Downward All Day

July 24, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following upbeat estimates for eurozone flash PMI readings. In Asia, China’s PMI came in lower than expected, leading to more worries about how much growth the Middle Kingdom will produce this year. Japanese exports rose less than expected, as did imports, but the country’s trade deficit was chopped by more than 80% from the previous month. In the U.S., mortgage applications fell again, but new home sales rose sharply in June. None of the good news was enough to keep the indexes from finishing the day as high as they started off.

The U.S. dollar index is trading up 0.42% today, now at 82.2900. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 648.62. WTI crude oil closed down 1.7% today, at $105.39 a barrel, after the EIA’s inventory report. Brent crude trades down 1.2% at $107.17 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.1% today at about $3.70 per million BTUs. Gold for August delivery settled down 1.1% today at $1,319.70 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 25 points to 15,542.24 (-0.16%), the NASDAQ rose less than 1 point (0.01%) to 3,579.60, and the S&P 500 fell -0.38% or more than 6 points to 1,685.94.

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

  • United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) started as ‘outperform’ with a price target of $86 at Credit Suisse;
  • The Wendy’s Co. (NASDAQ: WEN) raised to ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs;
  • Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) cut to ‘underperform’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch;
  • Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) cut to ‘hold’ at Argus; and
  • Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) raised to ‘neutral’ at BofA/Merrill Lynch.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some prices move today:

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings results from Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU), Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS), F5 Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS), Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM), Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), 3M Corp. (NYSE: MMM), Bunge Ltd. (NYSE: BG), Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF), D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Lorillard Inc. (NYSE: LO), Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), and Yandex NV (NASDAQ: YNDX).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) is down 14.4% at $27.24 after posting a new 52-week low of $26.63 earlier today. The communications chipmaker posted disappointing quarterly results and gave downbeat guidance for the third quarter..

Walter Energy Inc. (NYSE: WLT) is down 17.8% at $11.58. The coal mining company cut its dividend to 1 cent after amending $2.73 billion of secured debt.

Maidenform Brands Inc. (NYSE: MFB) is up 22.6% at $23.40. The women’s intimate appaerl maker is being acquired by HanesBrands Inc. (NYSE: HBI) for $23.50 a share, for a total of about $575 million.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
  • 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
  • 11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
  • 1:00 p.m. – 7-year note auction
  • 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply