The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher this morning following the report on new jobless claims, which rose by 369,000, less than the expected 375,000 (our coverage here). In Europe, GDP in the U.K. rose by 1%, well above an expected contraction of 0.5%. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose for the tenth straight day, the longest streak in seven years. In Japan, a rumored stimulus program lifted equities, but the Shanghai exchange closed lower on weaker real estate stocks. U.S. pending home sales rose slightly, but not nearly as much as expected (more coverage here). Share prices trickled downward most of the day from those early morning highs to finish with small gains.
The U.S. dollar index rose slightly today, now up 0.15% at 80.033. The GSCI commodity index is down about 0.3% at 636.75, with commodities prices mostly lower today. WTI crude oil closed up 0.4% today, at $86.05 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 0.6% at $108.53 a barrel. Natural gas is down 0.5% today at about $3.43 per thousand cubic feet following an inventory build of 67 billion cubic feet (more coverage here). Gold closed at $1,713.00 an ounce, up 0.7% for the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 26 points to 13,103.91 (0.20%), the NASDAQ rose about 4 points (0.15%) to 2,986.12, and the S&P 500 0.30% or about 4 points to 1,412.98.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) started as 'sell' at Cantor Fitzgerald; Intersil Corp. (NASDAQ: ISIL) cut to 'sell' at Citigroup; Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) maintained as 'hold' with a view in the high-$20s at Argus; Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) maintained as 'outperform' but target price cut to $86 at Credit Suisse; and BP plc (NYSE: BP) started as 'neutral' at Goldman Sachs.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Angie's List Inc. (NASDAQ: ANGI) is up 24.9% at $11.35; Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) is down 10.2% at $38.32; Crocs Inc. (NASDAQ: CROX) is down 21% at $12.79 after posting a new 52-week low of $12.61 earlier today (more coverage here); F5 Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV) is down 11.1% at $83.00 after posting a new 52-week low of $81.07 earlier today; Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC) is down 0.7% at $66.23; Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE: RYL) is up 3.1% at $33.79 after posting a new 52-week high of $35.40 earlier today; Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) is up 0.8% at $44.31; Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) is down 0.7% at $38.08; AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) is down 4.5% at $45.88; Bunge Ltd. (NYSE: BG) is up 2.8% at $70.21 after posting a new 52-week high of $72.20 earlier today; Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) is down 1.9% at $104.50; Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN) is up 1.8% at $31.36; National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NYSE: NOV) is down 2.6% at $74.81; Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (NYSE: POT) is down 0.5% at $40.40 (more coverage here); and United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is down 5.1% at $19.25 (more coverage here).
Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Bally Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BYI), Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR), Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR), DeVry Inc. (NYSE: DV), Healthsouth Corp. (NYSE: HLS), Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI), Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA), KKR & Co. LP (NYSE: KKR), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), Oshkosh Corp. (NYSE: OSK), and Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is up 12.7% at $2.40. The social media game maker beat earnings expectations last night, announced a $200 million share buyback, and said it would fire 5% of its staff. More coverage here.
PSS World Medical Inc. (NASDAQ: PSSI) is up 32.3% at $28.58 after posting a new 52-week high of $28.72 earlier today. The medical equipment supplier is being acquired by drug wholesaler McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) for $1.46 billion.
The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) is down 23.2% at $8.18. The newspaper and media company posted an unexpected net loss in the third quarter.
Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following event on the schedule (all times Eastern):
8:30 a.m. – GDP
9:55 a.m. – University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: AAPL, ACI, AET, ALK, AMZN, AN, ANGI, BA, BG, BP, BYI, CBST, CL, CLF, CLWR, CMCSA, CROX, CSTR, DNKN, DV, FB, FFV, HLS, ISIL, KKR, MCK, MRK, NOV, NYT, OSK, POT, PSSI, RRC, RYL, UAL, WY, ZNGA