Closing Bell for Thursday on Wall Street: Markets Start Low, Drift Lower All Day

August 15, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning as yields on 10-year Treasuries rose to a 2-year high. In the U.S., lower than expected new claims for unemployment benefits and a consumer price index reading of 0.2% contributed to a growing belief that the Federal Reserve will begin to taper its asset purchases at next month’s FOMC meeting. In Europe there was little economic data released, but Britain reported that retail sales rose by 1.1%, it’s best showing in more than 2 years. There was little economic news out of Asia on Thursday as well. U.S. markets

The U.S. dollar index is trading lower today, now down 0.58% at 81.2350. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.4% at 643.68. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5% today, at $107.33 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.8% at $111.10 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.2% today at about $3.42 per million BTUs after the weekly storage report. Gold for December delivery settled up 2% today at $1,360.90 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 225 points to 15,112.27 (-1.47%), the NASDAQ fell about 63 points (-1.72%) to 3,606.12, and the S&P 500 fell -1.43% or about 24 points to 1,661.32.

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

  • Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) cut to ‘neutral’ at R.W. Baird;
  • Smith & Wesson Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) cut to ‘underweight’ at KeyBanc Capital Markets;
  • Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) raised to ‘buy’ with a price target of $42 at Goldman Sachs;
  • Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) raised to ‘outperform’ with a price target of $58 at RBC Capital Markets; and
  • ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT) started as ‘underweight’ at Barclays.

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

  • Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is up 1.1% at $47.00 after posting a new 52-week high of $48.17 earlier today;
  • NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) is down 0.7% at $42.01;
  • Renren Inc. (NASDAQ: RENN) is down 12.9% at $3.66;
  • Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE: SLW) is up 7.7% at $27.07 on a rise in precious metals;
  • Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) is up 5.2% at $53.51;
  • Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ: PAAS) is up 0.8% at $13.89; and
  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is down 2.6% at $74.41 after a weak outlook.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings results from Applied Materials Corp. (NASDAQ: AMAT), Bally Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BYI), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), and Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is down 7.5% at $24.40. The networking giant met earnings estimates, but predicted tough times ahead, and announced the layoff of 4,000 staff.

Volterra Semiconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: VLTR) is up 54.6% at $22.88. The chipmaker is being acquired by Maxim Integrated Products Inc. (NASDAQ: MXIM) for $605 million.

Iamgold Corp. (NYSE: IAG) is up 9.5% at $6.39. The gold miner is getting a boost from today’s jump in gold prices because it is becoming a low-cost producer.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – Housing starts
  • 8:30 a.m. – Productivity and costs
  • 9:55 a.m. – Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey

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