U.S. equity markets opened higher following a spate of moderately good news on U.S. employment. The ADP report showed job gains (more coverage here), and the report on new claims for unemployment benefits came in a bit lower than expected (more coverage here). Tomorrow's non-farm payroll report is probably the most eagerly anticipated data point in some time, given its potential impact on next week's presidential election. In Asia, Chinese PMI ticked up for the first time in three months (more coverage here), lifting Asian markets. In Europe, the U.K.'s PMI reading was lower than expected, but Britain's housing prices have strengthened slightly.
The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.18% at 80.059. The GSCI commodity index is up less than 0.1% at 637.74, with commodities prices mixed again today. WTI crude oil is up about 1% today, at $87.09 a barrel, following a decline in U.S. crude stocks (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.6% at $108.05 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.2% today at about $3.70 per thousand cubic feet, following an inline inventory build (more coverage here). Gold closed at $1,715.50 an ounce, down about 0.2% for the day.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 135 points to 13,231.39 (1.03%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 43 points (1.44%) to 3,020.06, and the S&P 500 rose 1.09% or about 15 points to 1,427.59.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) cut to 'perform' at Oppenheimer; Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) reiterated as 'outperform' and target price raised to $53 at Credit Suisse; J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) maintained as 'buy' with a target price of $35 at Argus; Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD) raised to 'buy' at Cantor Fitzgerald; and Comverse Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: CMVT) cut to 'sector perform' at RBC.
Earnings reports since last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) is down 3% at $38.79; Ceasars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) is up 0.7% at $5.83; Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) is up 1.7% at $13.50; Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE: MUR) is down less than 0.1% at $59.95; Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) is down 1.1% at $81.82 (more coverage here); Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) is down 5.9% at $33.66 (more coverage here); Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) is up 0.3% at $91.41 (more coverage here); HCA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HCA) is up 5.8% at $30.06; and Royal Gold Inc. (NYSE: RGLD) is up less than 0.1% at $88.18.
Before markets open tomorrow we are scheduled to hear from Bankrate Inc. (NYSE: RATE), Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), Fluor Corp. (NYSE: FLR), Green Dot Corp. (NYSE: GDOT), Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS), Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN), Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX), Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES), McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (NYSE: MHP), Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (NYSE: OZM), and Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
K-Swiss Inc. (NASDAQ: KSWS) is up 34.7% at $3.07. The footwear company beat EPS estimates this morning and raised its fourth quarter outlook for revenues.
Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) is down 16% at $21.27. The clothing retailer posted weak earnings last night and lowered guidance. We have more coverage of October retail sales here.
Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is up 9.8% at $8.70. The mobile device maker has been rising for two days on what could be just short covering. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Friday. 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. – Employment report
10:00 a.m. – Factory orders
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: ALL, APA, CHK, CMVT, CVX, CZR, EXC, FLR, GDOT, HCA, HES, HTZ, JCP, KSWS, LVS, MHP, MUR, NFLX, OZM, PCLN, RATE, RGLD, RIMM, RL, RVBD, SBUX, TWX, XOM, Yelp, ZUMZ