August 8, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning after China reported that its trade surplus narrowed to $17.1 billion in July, well below an expected surplus of $27.2 billion. Elsewhere in Asia, the Bank of Japan left its interest rate unchanged, while the country’s current account surplus was smaller than expected pushing the Nikkei down 1.6% at close. In Europe, Germany reported a larger than expected trade surplus. In the U.S., new claims for unemployment benefits ticked higher for the past week.
The U.S. dollar index is trading lower today, now down 0.34% at 81.0070. The GSCI commodity index is down 0.8% at 629.70. WTI crude oil closed down 0.9% today, at $103.40 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 0.7% at $106.70 a barrel. Natural gas is up 2.2% today at about $3.32 per million BTUs following the weekly storage report. Gold for December delivery settled up 1.9% today at $1,309.90 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 27 points to 15,498.32 (0.18%), the NASDAQ rose about 15 points (0.41%) to 3,669.12, and the S&P 500 rose 0.39% or more than 6 points to 1,697.48.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- Endo Health Solutions Inc. (ENDP) started as ‘buy’ with a $43 price target at Citigroup;
- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) raised to ‘overweight’ with a $38 price target at Evercore;
- Crocs Inc. (CROX) cut to ‘underperform’ with $10 price target at Sterne Agee;
- Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS-A) cut to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley; and
- Target Corp. (TGT) cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some prices move today:
- Agrium Inc. (AGU) is up 4.9% at $87.16;
- American Water Works Company Inc. (AWK) is up 0.2% at $42.55;
- CenturyLink Inc. (CTL) is down 5.5% at $34.40;
- SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) is down 10.3% at $38.10 after weak earnings;
- Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) is up 14.3% at $153.40 after posting a new 52-week high of $158.88 on surprisingly strong earnings;
- Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) is down 8% at $13.17 after decent earnings;
- Dean Foods Inc. (DF) is down 7.4% at $10.20;
- Hecla Mining Co. (HL) is up 10.6% at $3.28;
- Linn Energy LLC (LINE) is down 6.8% at $25.31;
- Royal Gold Inc. (RGLD) is up 9.1% at $52.69; and
- Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS) is up 15.5% after a good earnings report and forecast.
Before markets open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear earnings results from Air Lease Corp. (AL), Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF), Molycorp Inc. (MCP), Monster Beverage Corp. (MNST), Noodles & Co. (NDLS), Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN), Rackspace Hosting Inc. (RAX), Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (HNR), and James River Coal Co. (JRCC).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Groupon Inc. (GRPN) is up 21.6% at $10.61 after posting a new 52-week high of $11.22 earlier today. The social game maker had good earnings and a new CEO helped as well.
Fusion-io Inc. (FIO) is down 24.1% at $11.32 after posting a new 52-week low of $11.11 earlier today. The data storage company posted poor quarterly results.
Opexa Therapeutics Inc. (OPXA) is down 52.1% at $1.40. The development drug company held a secondary offering today, after yesterday’s 130% share price run-up.
Stay tuned for Friday. We have noted the following event on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:00 a.m. - Wholesale trade