Closing Bell for Thursday on Wall Street: Markets Open Lower, Close with Gains

August 8, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning after China reported that its trade surplus narrowed to $17.1 billion in July, well below an expected surplus of $27.2 billion. Elsewhere in Asia, the Bank of Japan left its interest rate unchanged, while the country’s current account surplus was smaller than expected pushing the Nikkei down 1.6% at close. In Europe, Germany reported a larger than expected trade surplus. In the U.S., new claims for unemployment benefits ticked higher for the past week.

The U.S. dollar index is trading lower today, now down 0.34% at 81.0070. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.8% at 629.70. WTI crude oil closed down 0.9% today, at $103.40 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.7% at $106.70 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.2% today at about $3.32 per million BTUs following the weekly storage report. Gold for December delivery settled up 1.9% today at $1,309.90 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 27 points to 15,498.32 (0.18%), the NASDAQ rose about 15 points (0.41%) to 3,669.12, and the S&P 500 rose 0.39% or more than 6 points to 1,697.48.

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

  • Endo Health Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: ENDP) started as ‘buy’ with a $43 price target at Citigroup;
  • Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) raised to ‘overweight’ with a $38 price target at Evercore;
  • Crocs Inc. (NASDAQ: CROX) cut to ‘underperform’ with $10 price target at Sterne Agee;
  • Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS-A) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley; and
  • Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan.

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 Air Lease Corp. (NYSE: AL), Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: LGF), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST), Noodles & Co. (NASDAQ: NDLS), Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN), Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX), Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: HNR), and James River Coal Co. (NASDAQ: JRCC).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is up 21.6% at $10.61 after posting a new 52-week high of $11.22 earlier today. The social game maker had good earnings and a new CEO helped as well.

Fusion-io Inc. (NYSE: FIO) is down 24.1% at $11.32 after posting a new 52-week low of $11.11 earlier today. The data storage company posted poor quarterly results.

Opexa Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: OPXA) is down 52.1% at $1.40. The development drug company held a secondary offering today, after yesterday’s 130% share price run-up.

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

  • 10:00 a.m. – Wholesale trade

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