U.S. stocks opened mostly lower on Thursday as investors considered whether the European Central Bank would continue to hike interest rates to curb inflation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 8 points to 12,418. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined fractionally to 1,335. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2 points to 2,801. The retail sector is reporting better than expected March same store sales however, the sector is not reacting much. Pep Boys, Bed Bath & Beyond, Rite Aid, and Pier One are all higher after reporting earnings. All four are up over 2%. Ruby Tuesday and WD-40 are lower after reporting earnings. The techs are rebounding after getting hit yesterday. The big cap techs like HP look good this morning. Google is higher after getting their earnings estimates raised. Salesforce.com is up 2% on an upgrade. Travelzoo is lower on a downgrade. The commodities are bouncing back. Freeport McMoran is up 1.5%. Monsanto and the fertilizers are bouncing back after getting hit yesterday. The rare earth metals are bouncing back thanks in part to a US Congressman creating a bill to protect and preserve our countries supply of rare earth metals. Molycorp is jumping 5%. After the first hour the Dow fell into the red while the Nasdaq clung to gains. The financials are trying to rally. Ameriprise is up 2% on an upgrade. Newmont Mining is up 3% on increasing gold production. PNC Bank is higher after hiking their dividend 250% and initiating a share buyback. Goldman Sachs also looks good. After the first hour the selling accelerated with the news out of Japan of another major earthquake and a possibility of another tsunami. The Dow fell a quick 90 points and the Nasdaq declined 15 points. The averages quickly recovered half the losses, but remained in the red. Heading into the lunch hour the averages moved back toward the lows of the day and remained in the red through the afternoon. Only a select number of stocks are higher including Google, Molycorp, Goldman Sachs, and Freeport McMoran. Many investors maybe waiting for day break to assess the damage in Japan. In the last hour the averages put in a good rally, but finished in the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 17 points at 12,409, with shares of Caterpillar among the bigger decliners, down 1%. The S&P 500 fell 2 points to end at 1,333. The Nasdaq Composite closed at 2,796, down 3 points.
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