U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following a slightly upbeat report on eurozone manufacturing PMI. While not yet in positive territory, eurozone PMI rose as a whole and rose in most European countries as well, with the U.K. posting a reading of 51.3. The eurozone economy continues to contract but the trend is demonstrating improvement. China's manufacturing PMI also rose slightly. In the U.S. the ISM manufacturing index came in at a disappointing 49.0. U.S. construction spending rose slightly in April.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.92% today, now at 82.6080. The GSCI commodity index is down 1.1% at 615.46. WTI crude oil closed up 1.6%, at $93.45 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 1.7% at $102.11 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.3% today at about $4.00 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 1.4% today at $1,411.90.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 137 points to 15,252.95 (0.91%), the NASDAQ rose more than 9 points (0.27%) to 3,465.37, and the S&P 500 rose 0.59% or nearly 10 points to 1,640.38.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
HomeAway Inc. (NASDAQ: AWAY) started as 'sell' at Monness Crespi & Hardt;
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) raised to 'buy' at SunTrust Robinson Humphreys;
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) raised to 'outperform' at FBR Capital Markets;
LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) started as 'outperform' at Credit Suisse; and
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) started as 'overweight' with a price target of $40 at Barclays.
Earnings reports since markets closed last Friday have resulted in one notable price change today: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) is up 5.7% at $94.57 after posting a new 52-week high of $97.13 earlier today.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings from SAIC Inc. (NYSE: SAI) and Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) is up 3.8% at $48.45 after posting a new 52-week high of $49.36 earlier today. The drug company announced good results over the weekend for its melanoma treatment.
Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) is down 14.9% at $1.77. The drug maker today terminated a supply agreement and resolved other disputes related to its recall of anemia drug Omontys.
BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) is down 2.7% at $13.58. The smartphone maker had no news today, but a recent report on mobile phone operating systems market share leaves little room for the company's latest BlackBerry 10 platform.
Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is down 9.3% at $3.09. The social game maker's stock was halted this afternoon when it announced a layoff of more than 500 employees.
Stay tuned for Tuesday. Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, Kansas City Fed President Esther George, and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher are speaking. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
8:30 a.m. – International trade data
11:30 a.m. – 4-week bill auction
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Market Close Tagged: AFFY, AWAY, BBRY, BBY, CBRL, DG, FCX, INTC, LNKD, MRK, SAI, ZNGA