July 10, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened barely mixed this morning after last night's downgrade of Italian debt and a report that both China's exports and imports declined in June. There was little other international news of note to move markets this morning as traders and investors were waiting to see what the FOMC minutes revealed later in the afternoon. Stocks rose, then fell after the minutes were released. In the U.S., mortgage applications fell again as did wholesale inventories, which raised hopes that some restocking would soon be taking place. The auction of 10-year Treasury notes confirmed the recent news of a substantial rise in interest rates.
The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.62% today, now at 84.0550. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.4% at 637.17. WTI crude oil closed up 2.9% today, at $106.52 a barrel, its highest close in 15 months, following a significant drawdown in inventories. Brent crude trades up 0.6% at $108.42 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.6% today at about $3.68 per million BTUs. Gold for August delivery settled up 0.1% today at $1,247.40.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down nearly 9 points to 15,291.66 (-0.06%), the NASDAQ rose more than 16 points (0.47%) to 3,520.76, and the S&P 500 rose 0.02% or less than 1 point to 1,652.62.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades<<LINK>> today, including:
Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) raised to 'buy' and price target doubled to $32 at Citigroup;
Alon USA Energy Inc. (NYSE: ALJ) cut to 'underperform' at Macquarie;
Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) raised to 'buy' with a price target of $23 at Jefferies;
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) was cut to 'hold' at Sandler O'Neill; and
EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) reiterated as 'buy' with a price target of $28 at Sterne Agee.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:
Helen of Troy Ltd. (NASDAQ: HELE) is up 3.1% at $43.32 after posting a new 52-week high of $43.60 earlier today, and
Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) is up 8.1% at $69.10 after a solid earnings report.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings results from PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PSMT), Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), and SemiLEDS Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) is down 4% at $9.25. The mobile phone maker's annual shareholders meeting yesterday failed to impress investors.
Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: NUS) is up 18.3% at $78.77 after posting a new 52-week high of $79.25 earlier today. The maker of personal care products lifted its quarterly and full-year estimates last night.
Pandora Inc. (NYSE: P) is down 8.5% at $17.98. The Internet radio provider took a few shots from analysts who see Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) and, soon, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) with advantages of Pandora.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo is giving a speech, and major chain stores will be reporting June same-store sales. 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. - Import and export prices
10:30 a.m. - EIA weekly natural gas storage report
1:00 p.m. - 30-year bond auction
2:00 p.m. - Treasury budget
4:30 p.m. - Fed balance sheet and money supply
Filed under: Investing Tagged: AAPL, ALJ, BBRY, EMC, FDO, FTNT, HELE, HPQ, LEDS, NUS, P, PNC, PSMT, SIRI, YUM