August 2, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning following a mixed report on U.S. employment. The monthly report on personal income and outlays was also a mixed bag, with core prices rising 0.2% at the same time that personal income rose 0.3%. U.S. factory orders in June were also weaker than expected. In Europe, the eurozone producer price index was unchanged and the number of unemployed in Spain did not fall as much as expected. There was little economic data out in Asia as well.
The U.S. dollar index is trading lower today, now down 0.49% at 81.9300. The GSCI commodity index is up 1.3% at 646.77. WTI crude oil closed down 0.9% today, at $106.94 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.36% at $108.87 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.2% today at about $3.35 per million BTUs. Gold for December delivery settled down less than 0.1% today at $1,310.50 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 30 points to 15,658.36 (0.19%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 14 points (0.38%) to 3,689.59, and the S&P 500 rose 0.16% or nearly 3 points to 1,709.67.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (LGND) cut to ‘sell’ at Cantor Fitzgerald;
- Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) cut to ‘neutral’ at Macquarie;
- Groupon Inc. (GRPN) raised to ‘equal weight’ and price target raised to $8 at Evercore;
- Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) added to U.S. Focus List at Credit Suisse; and
- General Dynamics Corp. (GD) reiterated as ‘buy’ and price target raised to $98 at Argus.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some prices move today:
- Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) is down 0.3% at $18.14;
- Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT) is up 0.4% at $57.40;
- LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) is up 10.7% at $235.71 after posting a new 52-week high of $237.93 earlier today following last night’s stellar earnings report;
- Tesoro Corp. (TSO) is down 4.2% at $55.33;
- Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) is down 8.1% at $4.99 on weak earnings;
- Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) is up 5% at $19.58 after posting a new 52-week high of $20.16 earlier today;
- Chevron Corp. (CVX) is down 1.3% at $124.77 after soft earnings; and
- The Washington Post Co. (WPO) is up 1.9% at $559.51 after posting a new 52-week high of $563.20 earlier today.
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Dell Inc. (DELL) is up 5.4% at $13.65. The computer maker’s board has sided with Michael Dell and Silver Lake in their attempt to take the company private. Carl Icahn is not amused.
Athlon Energy Inc. (ATHL) is up 34.8% at $26.96. The oil and gas exploration & production company held its IPO today.
Weight Watchers International Inc. (WTW) is down 19.6% at $37.83 after posting a new 52-week low of $37.26 earlier today. The weight loss and nutrition company cut its annual guidance and named a new CEO quite suddenly today.
Stay tuned for Monday. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is giving a speech. We have also noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:00 a.m. - ISM non-manufacturing index
- 11:30 a.m. - 3- and 6-month bill auctions
Have a great weekend!