24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell — August 29, 2012: Markets Rise on Slim Economic News (WPI, SCHN, IBM, BIDU, IDXX, TFM, GCO, HNZ, ISLE, JASO, JOY, YGE, ZLC, LTRX, P, TIVO, VRA, TD, YELP, MCP, NOK)


The three major U.S. stock indexes opened slightly higher this morning following an upward revision to the U.S. second quarter GDP growth reading to 1.7%, above the 1.5% preliminary reading and better than the 1.6% forecast (our coverage here). U.S. mortgage application numbers were lower in the past week, even though interest rates were also lower (our coverage here). Pending home sales rose 2.4% (more coverage here) and crude oil inventories were higher, lowering crude prices and weighing on energy stocks (our coverage here). The Fed Beige Book was released in mid-afternoon and indicated "gradual" growth in the U.S. economy, but the tea leaves related to a next round of easing were indecisive. We'll just have to wait for the Jackson Hole meeting for some more clarity apparently.

The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.23% at 81.559. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.2% today at 668.50, with commodities prices mostly higher and corn back above $8.00/bushel. WTI crude oil finished down 0.9% today, closing at $95.49/barrel. Brent crude trades flat at $112.58/barrel. Natural gas is up 0.8% today to $2.635/thousand cubic feet. Gold settled at $1,663.00/ounce, down 0.4%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 5 points to 13,108.18 (0.04%), the NASDAQ rose about 4 points (0.13%) to 3,081.19, and the S&P 500 rose 0.09% or about 1 point to 1,410.51.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: WPI) reiterated as 'buy' and target price raised to $100 at Argus; Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHN) cut to 'sell' at CLSA; International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) reiterated as 'buy' with a target price of $235 at Argus; Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) target price cut to $153 at Barclays; and IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (NASDAQ: IDXX) started as 'hold' at Canaccord Genuity.

Some companies that reported earnings since markets closed last night and have share price changes as of the last half hour of trading today include Fresh Market Inc. (NASDAQ: TFM) down 3.6% at $59.49 after posting a new 52-week high of $65.69 earlier today; Genesco Inc. (NYSE: GCO) up 1.2% at $72.01; H.J. Heinz Co. (NYSE: HNZ) down 2.3% at $56.12 after posting a new 52-week high of $57.37 earlier today (more coverage here); Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (NASDAQ: ISLE) up 4% at $6.45; JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) down 8.5% at $0.98 (more coverage here); Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY) up 3.2% at $54.78; Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) down 3.6% at $1.88; and Zale Corp. (NYSE: ZLC) up 3.9% at $4.28 (more coverage here).

Earnings releases scheduled before markets open tomorrow morning include Lantronix Inc. (NASDAQ: LTRX), Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) (more coverage here), Tivo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), Vera Bradley Inc. (NASDAQ: VRA), and The Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) is up 22.9% at $22.44. The social media firm's lockup period ends today and the company reports earnings after markets close. Could be a short squeeze, with 22% of the company's outstanding shares held short. More coverage here.

Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) is up 15.2% at $12.38. The rare earths miner got an upgrade to 'buy' on the strength of the company's production start. More coverage here.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is down 4% at $2.91. The mobile device maker is giving back more gains, the classic "gap and crap" play. More coverage here.

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

  • 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits

  • 8:30 a.m. – Personal income and outlays

  • 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

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: BIDU, GCO, HNZ, IBM, IDXX, ISLE, JASO, JOY, LTRX, MCP, NOK, P, SCHN, TD, TFM, TIVO, VRA, WPI, Yelp, YGE, ZLC