U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning before bouncing into positive territory briefly and then turning south again. As happened yesterday, the focus was on Europe, where Italy's oldest bank was expected to reveal the extent of its derivatives losses, estimated by some to be as high as €1 billion. German factory orders came in slightly below estimates. In Asia, the early resignation of one governor from the Bank of Japan sent the Nikkei up nearly 4%. There was little data out in the U.S. today. Mortgage applications rose 3.4% from last week (more coverage here) and crude oil inventories also rose. But today has mostly been spent waiting for news from Italy. In the event, shares came close to a flat finish.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.3% today, now at 79.721. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.4% at 676.70, with commodities prices lower today. WTI crude oil closed flat today, at $96.62 a barrel following today's report on inventories (more coverage here). Brent crude trades up 0.2% at $116.80 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.8% today at about $3.43 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.3% today at $1,678.80 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up less than 7 points to 13,985.98 (0.05%), the NASDAQ fell about 3 points (-0.10%) to 3,168.48, and the S&P 500 rose 0.05% or less than 1 point to 1,512.06.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) started as 'buy' at Citi; J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) started as 'sell' at Maxim Group; Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) started as 'buy' at Nomura; Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI) cut to 'neutral' at J.P. Morgan; and Itron Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) raised to 'buy' with a price target of $52 at Argus.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in several price moves today, including these: Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) is up 5.8% at $322.83; Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) is down 2.7% at $65.65; Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE: GNW) is down 3.1% at $8.89; Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) is up 14.9% at $14.54; Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is up 0.4% at $54.53 after posting a new 52-week high of $55.50 earlier today (more coverage here); Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is up 8.4% at $2.97 (more coverage here); CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS) is down 1.3% at $51.06 (more coverage here); Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) is down 1.4% at $34.23; Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: NUS) is down 3.3% at $41.56; Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) is up 5.8% at $174.43; Syngenta AG (NYSE: SYT) is down 2.3% at $85.10; and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) is up 4.1% at $52.01 after posting a new 52-week high of $55.23 earlier today (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from FMC Corp. (NYSE: FMC), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR), IAC/InterActivecorp (NASDAQ: IACI), Tesoro Corp. (NYSE: TSO), Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), Alcatel Lucent SA (NYSE: ALU), Bunge Ltd. (NYSE: BG), Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI), Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW), New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM), Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S), and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Boise Cascade Co. (NYSE: BCC) is up 25.9% at $26.43. The wood products maker held its IPO today, and priced above the expected range. More coverage here.
Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: GDP) is up 18.6% at $12.60. The oil & gas E&P firm announced rising production at one of its wells.
Vocus Inc. (NASDAQ: VOCS) is down 15.5% at $15.00. The cloud software company after guiding current quarter earnings and revenues lower.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and Fed Governor Jeremy Stein are giving speeches. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
8:30 a.m. – Productivity and costs
10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
3:00 p.m. – Consumer credit
4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply
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