U.S. stocks opened modestly lower on Wednesday as a rising dollar hit commodities and natural-resource companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27 points to 11,663. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 3 points to 1,266. The Nasdaq Composite shed 6 points to 2,674. Ahead of Wall Street's start, stock futures trimmed their decline after payrolls processor ADP reported an unexpectedly large hike in private-sector job gains in December. The big banks surprisingly look good. Bank of America is up 1.5%. Visa and Mastercard are higher on upgrades. Wells Fargo, American Express, JP Morgan, and Citigroup are also modestly higher. Genworth is modestly lower on a downgrade. The commodities are lower except for the fertilizer stocks. The fertilizers are higher thanks to better than expected earnings out of Mosaic last night. Mosaic is up 1.5%. In the chip space Qualcomm is buying out Atheros for $3 billion. Atheros jumped 18% yesterday as the buyout rumor surfaced. Plenty of upgrades in the tech space, but they don't seem to be helping just yet. The upgrade list includes Salesforce.com, Nvidia, Amazon, Cisco Systems, Juniper, NCR, Autodesk, and Google. In the retail space Walgreen is modestly higher even though they missed estimates. Family Dollar is down 7% after missing estimates. BJ's is lower after switching up management and deciding to shut down some stores. A couple of retailers like Barnes & Noble, Priceline, and Amazon are higher on upgrades. After the first half hour the averages improved thanks to better than expected manufacturing data, however, the Dow remained in the red. After the first hour the Dow sold back off falling 25 points. The Nasdaq held on to modest gains. Through the morning the averages improved led by the financials. The techs are perking up. Google, Apple, and Research in Motion look good. Even the commodities are rebounding. Fertilizers still look good and the oil drillers look great for once. In the afternoon the averages pushed higher. The Dow rose 50 points. The Nasdaq rose 16 points. A lot of stocks are making new 52 week highs. Ford for some reason is breaking out today up 3% to new highs. Starting the last hour the averages remained strong near the highs of the day. The financials look good with Citigroup hitting $5 a share for the first time since April. The Dow Jones Industrials Average finished up 31 points at 11,722, led by a 2.9% gain in the shares of American Express. The S&P 500 gained 6 points to 1,276, led by a 1.2% rise in financials. The Nasdaq Composite rose 20 points to 2,702 points.
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