Ben Bernanke, long seen as much more stiff than many of his fun-loving baby boomer contemporaries, yesterday demonstrated a hitherto unknown interest in the music of Johnny Nash. What a pity though, that it was the singer's " There are more questions than answers / And the more I find out the less I know" that took his fancy. For " I Can See Clearly Now " would have been much more to the market's liking. A clear-as-mud message from the Fed head during his Q&A session in DC sent stocks on a wild ride, eventually ending deeply in the red. At least Apple ( AAPL ), whose Cook was grilled on the Hill 24 hours before our top central banker, fared better, with that stock bucking a bad tape to end up.
Today in economics, analysts expect April new home sales to improve on the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings activity, Advance Auto Parts ( AAP ), GameStop ( GME ), Gap Inc. ( GPS ), Hormel Foods (HRL), Lenovo (OTCMKTS:LNVGY), Ralph Lauren (RL), Ross Stores (ROST), SABMiller (OTCMKTS:SBMRY), salesforce.com (CRM), Signet Jewelers (SIG), Sears (SHLD), and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) are all due to release results.
Atwood Oceanics (ATW): Goldman Sachs gives the energy outfit a Buy-from-Neutral boost.
Demandware (DWRE): The stock is added to Goldman's list of Conviction Buys.
Diamond Offshore (DO): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Goldman.
FactSet Research (FDS): Piper Jaffray juices its recommendation on the financial information provider to Overweight from Neutral.
Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ): The Dow (^DJI) member, up 11.26% amid this morning's sea of red ink after CEO Meg Whitman handled a Q&A yesterday considerably better than did Ben Bernanke, gets upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies. Its Q2 earnings beat Street estimates.
Mack-Cali Realty (CLI): Saying the company is attractive relative to peers, Stifel hikes its investment opinion to Hold from Sell.
Pacific Sunwear of California (PSUN): Shares, surging some 18% as I write before the bell, are now Neutral from Underperform with Wedbush.
Seagate Techology (STX): Deutsche Bank hoists the stock to Buy from Hold, sending it up in an otherwise weak pre-market tape as I write.
Starwood Hotels (HOT): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the accommodation outfit to Buy from Neutral.
SunTrust Banks (STI): STI gets taken to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim.
Thomson Reuters (TRI): TRI is taken to Neutral from Underweight at Piper Jaffray.
VeriFone (PAY): Suntrust Robinson Humphrey raises its rating to Buy from Neutral.