24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell — September 21, 2012: Markets Mixed on Quadruple Witching Day (FB, IBM, MA, MSI, AN, ORCL, CTAS, DRI, KBH, LEN, PSDV, RHT, S, AAPL, RIMM, DHRM, VVUS)

The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher this morning, encouraged by a report from Europe that Spain was close to unveiling a rescue plan for the country's banks that it would release next week for review by eurozone authorities (more coverage here). In Asia, markets closed mostly higher this morning, but what little data was available was mixed. There was little in the way of new data in the U.S. today, either, although the Bureau of Labor Statistics did release state-by-state information on unemployment (more coverage here). Today marked the expiration of contracts for stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single stock futures - a quadruple witching day.

The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.1% at 79.335. The GSCI commodity index is up fractionally at 658.35, with commodities prices mostly higher today on the weaker dollar. WTI crude oil closed up 0.5% today, at $92.89 a barrel, but closed the week down 6%. Brent crude trades up 1.2% at $111.30 a barrel. Natural gas is up 3.3% today to $2.888 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,780.00 an ounce, up 0.6%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 16 points to 13,580.40 (-0.12%), the NASDAQ rose 4 points (0.13%) to 3,179.96, and the S&P 500fell -0.01% or less than 1 point to 1,460.13.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) started as 'buy' at Cantor Fitzgerald; International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) started as 'hold' at Jefferies; Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) started as 'buy' at Citigroup; Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI) started as 'buy' at Goldman Sachs; and AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) raised to 'buy' at BofA/ML.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night have affected several stocks, including Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) is up 1.2% at $32.65 (more coverage here); Cintas Corp. (NASDAQ: CTAS) is down 1.2% at $40.72; Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) is up 4.6% at $57.21 after posting a new high of $57.91 earlier today (more coverage here); and KB Home (NYSE: KBH) is up is up 16.3% at $15.24 after posting a new 52-week high of $15.65 earlier today (more coverage here).

Before markets re-open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN). Other notable earnings reports on Monday are set to come from pSivida Corp. (NASDAQ: PSDV) and Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT).

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) is up 3.6% at $5.64 after coming to within a penny of the stock's 52-week high of $5.71 earlier today. The wireless carrier is getting a bump on the new iPhone 5 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and the carrier's unique unlimited data package.

Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is down 5.9% at $6.50. The smartphone maker suffered a service outage earlier today, just a few days before the company hosts a developer conference to round up support for its new Blackberry 10 operating system. More coverage here.

Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: DHRM) is up 57% at $2.42. The Chinese medical equipment maker scored a three-year contract to provide air compressors and customized trolleys to a Ukrainian manufacturer.

Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is down 12.8% at $20.70. The drugmaker said it expects its Qsiva anti-obesity drug to be rejected by the European drug agency. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Monday. San Francisco Fed President John Williams is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index

  • 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctionsd

Have a great weekend!

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: AAPL, AN, CTAS, DHRM, DRI, FB, IBM, KBH, LEN, MA, MSI, ORCL, PSDV, RHT, RIMM, S, VVUS