U.S. equity markets opened flat to higher again this morning following the third revision to U.S. GDP growth in the third quarter and the report on new claims for unemployment benefits (more coverage here). Growth rose to 3.1%, but the deflator was unchanged at 2.7%. In Europe, Germany's producer price index dropped 0.1% in December, better than the expected 0.2% decline. Retail sales were down 1% in Italy, but unchanged in the U.K. In Asia, the Bank of Japan increased its stimulus by 10 trillion yen (about $110 billion) and left its key interest rate at 1%. The central bank is also raising Japan's inflation target from 1% to 2%. In the U.S., existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million and the FHFA house price index rose 0.5%, both signs of a continuing recovery in housing (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.02% at 79.249. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.7% at 644.73, with commodities prices mostly lower again today. WTI crude oil closed up fractionally today, at $90.01 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.2% at $110.17 a barrel. Natural gas is up 3.8% today at about $3.45 per thousand cubic feet following the EIA report on gas storage inventories (more coverage here). Gold settled down 1.3% today at $1,645.90 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 60 points to 13,311.72 (0.45%), the NASDAQ rose about 6 points (0.20%) to 3,050.39, and the S&P 500 rose 0.55% or nearly 8 points to 1,442.69.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) raised to 'buy' at Deutsche Bank; BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) started as 'overweight' at J.P. Morgan; Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) started as 'outperform' at William Blair; Boston Beer Co. (NYSE: SAM) started as 'neutral' at Citigroup; and LinnCo (NASDAQ: LNCO) started as 'outperform' at Wells Fargo.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have resulted in the following price change as of the last half hour of trading today: Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) is down 6.8% at $56.19 after posting a new 52-week low of $54.33 earlier today; Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) is up 8.1% at $20.07; Paychex Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX) is down 2% at $32.38; Carmax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) is up 8.9% at $37.94 after posting a new 52-week high of $38.24 earlier today; Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) is down 5.3% at $36.98; ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) is up 0.6% at $30.13 after posting a new 52-week high of $30.86 earlier today (more coverage here); Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is down 3.8% at $38.26 (more coverage here); KB Home (NYSE: KBH) is down 6.9% at $15.52 (more coverage here); Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) is up 19.7% at $1.25; and Scholastic Corp. (NASDAQ: SCHL) is down 1.5% at $28.85.
After markets close today and before they open on Monday morning we are scheduled to hear from Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM), and Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX) is up 33.8% at $32.19 after posting a new 52-week high of $33.38 earlier today. The owner of the NYSE is being acquired by Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (NYSE: ICE). More coverage here.
Eloqua Inc. (NASDAQ: ELOQ) is up 31.6% at $23.58. The business application software firm is being acquired by Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) for $871 million.
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: MDRX) is down 14.3% at $9.15. The medical records software firm fired its CEO and terminated its search for a buyer.
Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO) is up 14.5% at $16.12 after posting a new 52-week high of $16.42 earlier today. The recreational vehicle maker beat profit and revenue estimates handily this morning.
Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders
8:30 a.m. – Personal income and spending
8:30 a.m. – Chicago Fed national activity index
9:55 a.m. – University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment
11:00 a.m. – Kansas City Fed manufacturing index
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: ABT, BBBY, BLK, CAG, CCL, DFS, ELOQ, FCX, ICE, JBL, KBH, KMX, LNCO, MDRX, NKE, NYX, ORCL, PAYX, RAD, RHT, RIMM, SAM, SCHL, WAG, WGO