- US: Dow: 12945.60 (0.32%), S&P 500: 1360.60 (0.19%), NASDAQ: 2950.84 (-0.31%)
- Europe: CAC: 3439.62 (1.35%), DAX: 6848.03 (1.40%), FTSE: 5905.05 (0.33%).
- Asia:China: 2357.18 (0.01%),Hong Kong: 21491.62 (1.00%),India: 5564.30 (0.77%),Japan: 9384.17 (1.56%)
- Metals: Gold: 1725.50 (-0.17%), Silver: 33.26 (-0.33%), Copper: 3.72 (-1.94%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 103.30 (0.97%), Natural Gas: 2.70 (5.22%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.42 (0.94%), Soya Bean: 12.71 (0.99%), Wheat: 6.44 (2.35%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3150 (0.1500%), GBP/USD: 1.5831 (0.1895%), USD/JPY: 79.4755 (0.6844%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.023% (0.040)
Market News Update
U.S. Stocks Little Changed on Greece Optimism: U.S. stocks were little changed as optimism among European leaders about a Greek bailout failed to drive the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index above last year’s peak. As of 12:40 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 22.4 points, or 0.17%, to 12927, the S&P 500 gained 0.76 point, or 0.06%, to 1359 and the NASDAQ Composite fell 12.1 points, or 0.41%, to 2948. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-17/u-s-stock-index-futures-are-little-changed-before-economic-outlook-report.html
Consumer prices rise by most in four months: Consumer prices rose the most in four months in January as the price of gasoline jumped, highlighting a growing concern that higher energy costs could slow the economic recovery. In a report that might also give the U.S. Federal Reserve some pause over the possibility of easing monetary policy further, the Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index rose 0.2 percent last month.
Leading economic indicators rise 0.4%: The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in January and the cost of living climbed less than forecast, pointing to sustained economic growth with limited price pressures. The 0.4 percent increase in the Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months followed a 0.5 percent rise in December, the strongest back-to-back gains in almost a year. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-17/index-of-leading-economic-indicators-in-u-s-climbs-0-4-in-expansion-sign.html
Crude rises above $103: U.S. crude futures rose, as the dollar fell against the euro on optimism that Greece is inching toward another bailout. Light, sweet crude for March delivery rose 99 cents, or 1%, to $103.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204880404577229003840721814.html?mod=WSJ_Markets_MIDDLTopStories
Ten year yield at 2.02%: Yields on benchmark 10-year notes remained above 2 percent even after a report showed consumer prices increased less than forecast by economists. U.S. debt securities have lost 0.5 percent this year, while corporate bonds have returned 2.3 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-17/treasuries-decline-a-second-day-amid-greek-debt-bailout-optimism.html
Company News Update
- H.J. Heinz (HNZ) gained 4.8 percent to $54.59. The company reported third-quarter earnings excluding some items of 95 cents a share, beating the average analyst estimate of 85 cents.
- Campbell Soup (CPB) added 2.9 percent to $32.98. The company reported second-quarter earnings excluding some items of 64 cents a share. On average, the analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated profit of 62 cents.
- First Solar Inc. (FSLR) rose 6.9 percent to $42.43. The biggest maker of thin-film solar panels resolved a permitting issue withLos AngelesCounty for a $1.36 billion power project under construction, paving the way for financing to resume.
- Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) tumbled 15 percent to $46.56. Among eight patients with hepatitis C genotype 1 in a clinical trial, six had a viral relapse within four weeks after stopping a 12-week treatment with the medicine, GS-7977, plus ribavirin,Gilead said today in a statement. The two other patients are two weeks out from stopping treatment, and haven’t relapsed, the company said.
- General Mills (GIS) dropped 4 percent to $38.20. The company said “weak volume performance” acrossU.S. retail food categories in December and January hurt results in its fiscal third quarter.
- Nordstrom (JWN) shares were lower after the retailer issued a disappointing profit forecast for the year.
- Shares of Brightcove (BCOV), known for its Internet video platform, surged almost 35% in its stock market debut. The company’s shares were priced at $11 in its initial public offering, and soared to about $14.80.
- McNeil, a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) company, is recalling more than half a million bottles of Infants’ Tylenol because of consumer complaints about the difficulties of using the dosing system.
- Online review site Yelp has set a price target for its planned public stock offering, which could raise as much as $115 million in what would likely be the first IPO for a major Internet company this year.
- United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) made an unsolicited $6.43 billion bid to buy TNT Express NV,Europe’s second-largest package-delivery company, and the two sides remain in talks after the offer was turned down.
- Apple‘s (AAPL) share ofChina’s smartphone market slipped for a second straight quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011 amid competition from Chinese vendors and as some consumers delayed purchases to wait for the iPhone 4S launch.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, will let managers of its hedge funds own part of the business ahead of rules that limit shareholders’ cash in the unit, Chief Operating Officer John Havens said. Employees in the Citi Capital Advisors division, or CCA, will get a “significant” stake in managing the funds, Havens said in an interview.
- The Managed Funds Association (MFA), the hedge fund industry’s Washington, D.C.-based lobby group, submitted a petition to the SEC last month asking that the ban on general solicitation and advertising by private investment funds be lifted. The marketing prohibition is contained in Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933.
- William Bollinger, one of the pioneers of London’s hedge fund industry, has come out of retirement to launch a new venture, Judico Capital, inSingapore.
- Activist hedge fund Starboard Value is preparing to battle for AOL board seats ahead of the online company’s annual shareholder meeting this spring, the New York Post reported. The financial firm, already one of the biggest AOL shareholders, this week increased its stake in the Web company from 4.5 percent to 5.1 percent after late last year calling on AOL’s management, led by chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, to change its content strategy, which it argued would continue to lose the company money.
- Gold traders are getting more bullish after billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson told investors it’s time to buy the metal as protection against inflation caused by government spending. Paulson & Co. is already the biggest investor in the SPDR Gold Trust, the largest exchange- traded product backed by bullion, with a stake valued at $2.9 billion, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Feb. 14 showed.
- Global hedge fund assets are off to a fairly good start this year, according to new data. The industry now has $2.01 trillion in assets under management, according to Deutsche Bank’s February 2012 Monthly Hedge Fund Trends Report, with the typical median fund up 1.52 percent since the beginning of the year.
- North Carolina pension fund managers will allocate billions of dollars to stock-based hedge funds in a new push to improve the state’s returns. Up to 6% of pension assets, which totaled nearly $72 billion as of December, will head in that direction over the next three to five years.