Market Recap: Apple Has SPECIAL URGENCY, Banks Buzz, First Solar SHINES

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: 
Dow +0.53%, S&P +0.72%, Nasdaq $1.17%, Oil +2.49%, Gold +0.49%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $80.15 a barrel. Precious metals also rose, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) increasing to $1,573 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) increased 0.01% to settle at $26.85.

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

Moody’s cut its ratings on 15 of the world’s biggest banks Thursday, downgrading them one to three notches to reflect their exposure to volatile capital market activities, which could result in heavy losses. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) had its long-term debt rating lowered by just two notches, one level less than had been expected, sending its shares higher in after-hours trading. The downgrade left Morgan Stanley more highly rated than Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C), but a notch below Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) wants to rush its New York antitrust lawsuit over e-book pricing by finishing evidence gathering by year’s end, according to the U.S. government. Apple acknowledges it has a “special urgency” in ending the case, but on Thursday, the government said in a letter filed in federal court in Manhattan that it wants until March 2013 to finish gathering facts in a lawsuit it brought this year.

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First Solar’s (NASDAQ:FSLR) shares increased 9 percent after it announced the resumption of work on its 230-megawatt Los Angeles solar power plant. This came after it resolved certification issues that had resulted in suspending the project.

Alexza Pharmaceuticals‘ (NASDAQ:ALXA) shares increased 45 percent. The stock rallied on news that the company resubmitted a new drug application for its agitation drug, Adasuve with the Food and Drug Administration. According to Bloomberg, in May the agency told Alexza it needed to fix some problems in its manufacturing facility before it would approve its application.

Ryder System Inc. (NYSE:R) shares dropped 13 percent. On Thursday, the company said it had a lowered outlook for its fiscal second quarter and 2012 earnings.

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