U.S. stocks were off to a flat open as oil prices flipped back and forth and China decided to make things a little easier for market participants to borrow more money in order to buy stocks.
The S&P 500 was down by 1 point to trade at 2,048, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was stuck at 17,601 and the Nasdaq gained 8 points to trade near 4,804. The S&P Retail ETF lost 5 cents to sell at $45.93. Oil declined to $39 a barrel, but then popped back to $41, leaving stocks undecided about which direction to move.
The Chinese cut the rates on six-month loans to 3 percent from 4.8 percent and brokerages immediately went limit-up. China’s Shanghai composite closed up 2 percent for the day. Japan’s Nikkei was closed for Spring Equinox Day.
European markets are mixed with Germany up, while the U.K. and France are trading slightly lower.
J.P. Morgan Chase added Nike Inc. to its analyst-focus list, but also removed Lululemon over concerns about profit margin contraction. J.P. Morgan raised its price target on Nike to $72 from $67.50. Analyst Matthew Boss wrote, “Nike’s brand is best-in-class with significant runway remaining in the long-term story (with both top-line and gross margin) — a compelling combination.” The sports giant recently held an event showcasing new products. Nike reports its earnings on Tuesday after the market close. The FactSet estimate is for earnings per share of 48 cents and sales of $8.2 billion. Nike stock jumped over 1 percent to sell at $63.77, while Lululemon fell by over 2 percent to sell at $61.10.
Nordstrom Inc. was downgraded to neutral from overweight at Piper Jaffray. The analyst believes the stock is overvalued in the near-term, but still believes it is moving in the right direction. Neely Tamminga wrote, “We continue to believe Nordstrom is on the right customer-centric, channel-agnostic path in becoming a leader in the retailing landscape.” Credit Suisse reaffirmed their neutral rating on Nordstrom on Friday. Credit Suisse has a $55 price target on the stock. Nordstrom stock fell by 12 cents to sell at $58.40.
Perry Ellis International unveiled an agreement with MRH SpaRotica Groupe to introduce a line of men’s apparel under the Farah brand in China. A Farah store will open in early 2017. It is the company’s first agreement for Farah in China and is a major step to expand the brand outside of the U.K. and Europe. Perry Ellis stock gained almost 1 percent to trade at $19.38.
Apple is holding a product event this afternoon to introduce a small-form iPhone and a new version of its iPad. No doubt the new size will create a new small-size accessory boom.