No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. Shares ended broadly lower in tight trading after an economic index out of Old Dominion revealed unexpected weakness. For good measure, Richmond-based Altria ( MO ), maker of Virginia Slims, tumbled 2.41% in a terrible tobacco tape. Helicopter Ben Bernanke , invariably bearing gifts and sporting a similar white beard, does a pretty passable imitation of Saint Nick, of course. Sikorsky chopper owner United Technologies ( UTX ) didn't need our Fed head to provide it a lift, however. It topped all Dow (^DJI) issues, advancing 2.95% to hit the highest level in its history. Diana Containerships ( DCIX ) gained 3.57% on the day shy Di spoke to us from beyond the grave in Great Britain . When the royal tiny tot is old enough, he may play with timeless classic Monopoly. A new version dispenses with jail in our speeded-up age. A hedge fund heavy should be so lucky .
This morning in economics, analysts expect an increase in June new home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, the midpoint of the busiest week for quarterly earnings announcements is upon us. Today's results are due to include Akamai ( AKAM ), Baidu ( BIDU ), Boeing (BA), Canon (CAJ), Caterpillar (CAT), Daimler (DDAIF), Eli Lilly (LLY), Facebook (FB), Ford (F), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), PepsiCo (PEP), Qualcomm (QCOM), and Visa (V).
Alon USA Partners (ALDW): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Broadcom (BRCM): Shares, imploding over 8% ahead of the open, are now Neutral from Buy at Mizuho.
CapitalSource (CSE): CSE is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.
Crane Company (CR): Citi cuts the company to Neutral from Buy.
DISH Network (DISH): Shares are slashed to Hold from Buy with Wunderlich, whose amended price objective is $50. Regulatory concerns regarding a merger with DirecTV (DTV) remain a real risk, the broker believes.
DuPont (DD): The chemical company, a key Dow (^DJI) component, gets downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.
Gulfmark Offshore (GLF): GLF gets downgraded to Neutral from Accumulate at Global Hunter.
Heineken (HINKY): The Dutch brewing behemoth is taken to Neutral from Outperform at BNP Paribas.
Homebuilders : Compass Point lowers Lennar Corp (LEN) and PulteGroup (PHM), each now Neutral from Buy.
Mattress Firm Holding (MFRM): Shares are slashed to Hold from Buy at Stifel.
Murphy Oil (MUR): The energy outfit is moved to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch reduces the railroad to Underperform from Neutral.
PACCAR (PCAR): The truck maker's stock is trading lower before the bell on a Neutral-from-Overweight ratings reduction at Piper Jaffray, whose analyst wrote in a note that their market share in Britain "could be a burden in 2014" as legal requirements increase.
Polycom (PLCM): RBC Capital reduces its rating to Underperform from Sector Perform.
Portland Gen Electric (POR): Deutsche Bank downgrades the utility to Hold from Buy.
ValueClick (VCLK): Goldman gives the stock a Neutral-from-Buy downgrade.