Closing Bell for Thursday on Wall Street: Markets Open Higher; New Highs Abound

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August 1, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning as PMI readings in Europe bounced generally higher and China’s PMI improved slightly to remain positive. In the U.K., the Bank of England made no change to its interest rate or asset purchase program. In the U.S., the report on claims for new jobless benefits was sharply better than expected. The ISM manufacturing index also jumped in July, sending the S&P 500 index to an all-time high above 1,700. Automakers reported July sales throughout the day, and the year-over-year increases were good, but month-over-month sales lost some ground.

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The U.S. dollar index is trading higher today, now up 1.03% at 82.2890. The GSCI commodity index is down 1% at 638.64. WTI crude oil closed up 2.7% today, at $107.89 a barrel. Brent crude trades up 1.6% at $109.46 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.5% today at about $3.40 per million BTUs after another inventory build. Gold for August delivery settled down 0.1% today at $1,311.20 an ounce. Both the DJIA and the S&P 500 indexes closed at all-time highs today.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 128 points to 15,628.02 (0.83%), the NASDAQ rose more than 49 points (1.36%) to 3,675.74, and the S&P 500 rose 1.25% or more than 21 points to 1,706.87.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:

  • J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP) cut to ‘sell’ at Citigroup;
  • Siemens AG (SI) raised to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank;
  • American Tower Corp. (AMT) raised to ‘strong buy’ at Raymond James;
  • Humana Inc. (HUM) cut to ‘neutral’ at Citigroup; and
  • Barclays PLC (BCS) cut to ‘market perform’ at Bernstein.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some prices move today:

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  • Allstate Corp. (ALL) is up 2.8% at $52.38 after posting a new 52-week high of $52.61 earlier today;
  • Boston Beer Co. Inc. (SAM) is up 16% at $207.55 after posting a new 52-week high of $208.56 earlier today;
  • CBS Corp. (CBS) is up 4.1% at $54.99 after posting a new 52-week high of $55.58 earlier today;
  • Kinross Gold Corp. (KGC) is down 1.8% at $5.14;
  • Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD) is up 12.2% at $173.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $181.62;
  • Sturm Ruger & Company Inc. (RGR) is up 4.6% at $53.20;
  • Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) is down 0.9% at $55.10;
  • Avon Products Inc. (AVP) is down 3.6% at $22.03;
  • Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) is down 0.3% at $16.92 after a solid earnings report;
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is down 1.1% at $92.71 on a weak earnings report;
  • Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) is up 1.6% at $81.62; and
  • Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) is up 3.2% at $117.70 after posting a new 52-week high of $120.93 earlier today.

Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings results from Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI), Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT), LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD), Tesoro Corp. (TSO), Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR), Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC), Chevron Corp. (CVX), and The Washington Post Co. (WPO).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Sprint Corp. (NYSE:S) is up 8.2% at $6.45. The telecom company didn’t say anything special today, but did announce a new Motorola phone would be coming later this summer.

The Standard Register Company (SR) is up 406.9% at $15.30 after posting a new 52-week high of $16.65 earlier today. The communications and business forms company reported poor earnings this morning, but also said it had made an acquisition at essentially no cost: $210 million of the total acquisition cost of $218 million is long-term debt and Standard Register issued warrants for the other $8 million.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) is up 6.6% at $24.85 after posting a new 52-week high of $25.20 earlier today. The oil & gas production company reported much better earnings than anyone expected.

Stay tuned for Friday. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 8:30 a.m. - Employment situation
  • 8:30 a.m. - Personal income and outlays
  • 10:00 a.m. - Factory orders

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