24/7 Wall St. Closing Bell — December 17, 2012: Markets Open Higher as Fiscal Cliff Talks Continue (AAPL, SD, MCP, TXN, BHI, RICK, SAFM, ORCL, BBBY, FDX, GIS, CCL, CAG, DRI, KBH, RIMM, CLWR, ALU, GS, MS, CPWR, CBOU)

Bull and Bear figures
Bull and Bear figures

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning and got another boost following a meeting between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to discuss a solution to the impending fiscal cliff. In Europe, the eurozone's labor cost index rose 2% year-over-year, and the trade balance came in a lower than expected. In Asia, Japan's opposition party won the general election in a landslide, and the new prime minister immediately called for more aggressive stimulus. The yen sank like a stone. In China, a meeting of the new leadership has emphasized that the country will focus the country's economy more on urbanization and domestic demand and less on exports. The only data point reported today in the U.S. was the Empire State manufacturing index, which was surprisingly low.

The U.S. dollar index rose today, now up 0.01% at 79.581. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.9% at 637.14, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed up XX% today, at $87.20 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.2% at $107.90 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.4% today at about $3.36 per thousand cubic feet. Gold settled up 0.1% today at $1,698.20 an ounce.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 102 points to 13,237.23 (0.78%), the NASDAQ rose more than 39 points (1.32%) to 3,010.60, and the S&P 500 rose 1.19% or nearly 17 points to 1,430.40.

There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) cut to 'neutral' with a target price cut to $575 at Citigroup (more coverage here); SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE: SD) cut to 'sell' with a target price of $4 at Canaccord Genuity; Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) started as 'neutral' at Goldman Sachs; Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) cut to 'underperform' at Sterne Agee; and Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) cut to 'equal weight' at Morgan Stanley.

Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have resulted in the following price change as of the last half hour of trading today: Rick's Cabaret International Inc. (NASDAQ: RICK) is up 3.3% at $8.15.

After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) and Sanderson Farms Inc. (NASDAQ: SAFM). Later in the week we're expecting results from Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL), Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY), FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS), Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL), ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG), Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), and Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM), among others.

Some standouts from today include the following stocks:

Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is down 13.4% at $2.92. The wireless carrier's board has agreed to be acquired for $2.97 a share in cash, while investors had been hoping for a bidding war. More coverage here.

Alcatel-Lucent S.A. (NYSE: ALU) is up 8.1% at $1.34. The networking equipment maker got a $2.1 billion loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) and Credit Suisse AG (NYSE: CS) to help the firm meet some credit obligations and operating expenses.

Compuware Corp. (NASDAQ: CPWR) is up 13.2% at $10.79 after posting a new 52-week high of $11.16 earlier today.. The technology company received an unsolicited buyout offer at $11 a share from Elliott Management Co.

Caribou Coffee Co. (NASDAQ: CBOU) is up 30% at $16.01. The coffee roaster has agreed to be acquired by Germany's Joh. A. Benckiser Group for $16 as share, or about $340 million. More coverage here.

Stay tuned for Tuesday. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 10:00 a.m. – Housing market data

  • 11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction

  • 1:00 p.m. – 5-year note auction

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: AAPL, ALU, BBBY, BHI, CAG, CBOU, CCL, CLWR, CPWR, DRI, FDX, GIS, GS, KBH, MCP, MS, ORCL, RICK, RIMM, SAFM, SD, TXN