JPMorgan Upgrade and Wal-Mart’s Strange Plan: Market Recap

money face closeupWith the S&P racing upward, U.S. equity markets ended the day solidly in the green, despite a mixed bag of economic data — including a spike in jobless claims for the second consecutive week and a report of sluggish GDP growth.

At the close: DJIA: +0.36%, S&P 500: +0.41%, NASDAQ: +0.34%.

On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) edged up 0.66 percent to $97.22 per barrel, following Wednesday’s inventory report from the EIA. At 385.9 million barrels, U.S. inventories are well above the average for this time of year. The yield on the 10-year T-note rose 0.003 points to 1.850 percent.

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Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for June delivery, the most active contract, dropped $10.00 to close at $1,597.20 per ounce, after recapturing the price of $1,600 an ounce on Wednesday. Silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May edged 31 cents lower to finish at $28.82…

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone has had difficulties finding traction in a smartphone market dominated by Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. However, in an official blog post published earlier this week, Shaw wrote that Windows Phone outshipped the iPhone in seven countries: Argentina, India, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and group of smaller nations that includes Croatia and the “rest of central and eastern Europe.”

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International forecasts for Ford (NYSE:F) don’t appear to be getting better, as company predictions for its South American division suggest that the manufacturer may lose as much as $300 million in the region. Coupled with the predicted $2 billion annual loss that the company is expecting from Europe, the next quarter is putting enormous pressure on Ford’s North American and Chinese operations to carry the company through.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has been asked to settle up on a multi-billion rupee (equivalent to around $383 million) tax demand in India, but the company says it is going to continue to fight the claim and will not pay, for now.

With the worst of the storm behind it, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is beginning to look past the recent London Whale scandal that put the firm under the spotlight and painted it as the poster child for Wall Street irresponsibility. Although still working on shedding that image, Standard & Poor has raised its rating of JPMorgan from Negative to Stable, showing confidence and optimism that the firm will recover and move on in a more responsible way.

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Drastic times call for drastic measures, and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) is facing stronger competition than ever from the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). In efforts to speed up delivery times and save on shipping costs, the Bentonville-based low-cost king is proposing a truly drastic measure: shipping online orders to customers via shoppers who are in the store anyways.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Softbank informed representative Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, that they will not be integrating technology from Chinese manufacturer Huawei into the Sprint network following a merge, Representative Rogers has said. Rogers oversees the House Intelligence Committee.

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