- US: Dow: 12995.62 (-0.07%), S&P 500: 1371.06 (-0.08%), NASDAQ: 2981.89 (-0.17%)
- Europe: CAC: 3475.77 (0.63%), DAX: 6919.35 (0.46%), FTSE: 5922.25 (-0.10%).
- Asia-Pacific:Australia: 4298.50 (0.84%),China: 2428.49 (-0.96%),Hong Kong: 21680.08 (0.51%),India: 5385.20 (0.18%),Japan: 9723.24 (0.01%)
- Metals: Gold: 1712.00 (-4.27%), Silver: 34.65 (-6.70%), Copper: 3.87 (-1.06%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 105.78 (-0.72%), Natural Gas: 2.59 (2.98%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.58 (0.23%), Soya Bean: 13.19 (0.55%), Wheat: 6.69 (0.22%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3343 (-0.85%), GBP/USD: 1.5941 (0.25%), USD/JPY: 81.1100 (0.81%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 1.981% (0.038)
Market News Update
Energy, Materials Shares Drag Wall Street Lower: After posting modest gains earlier in the session, sliding energy and material shares weighed heavily on Wall Street as gold prices skidded lower and oil prices dipped. As of11:08 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.2 points, or 0.21%, to 12980, the S&P 500 dipped 2.2 points, or 0.16%, to 1370 and the NASDAQ Composite lost 5.3 points, or 0.18%, to 2982.
Economy in U.S. Grew at 3% Pace in 4th Qtr: The economy grew slightly faster than initially thought in the fourth quarter and a gauge of factory activity in the Midwest hit a 10 month-high in February, pointing to underlying strength in the economy. Gross domestic product expanded at a 3 percent annual rate, the quickest pace since the second quarter of 2010, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday in its second estimate. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-usa-economy-idUSTRE7BM0AB20120229
Bernanke sees inflation pressure: Higher gasoline prices are likely to push up inflation temporarily but not in the longer term, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday. Higher gasoline prices could lead to temporary higher inflation and reduce consumers' purchasing power, Mr. Bernanke said Wednesday in remarks prepared for testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. Global oil prices have climbed recently, fueled in part by concerns over Iran's nuclear intentions. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203986604577253170034011512.html?mod=WSJ_Markets_MIDDLETopStories
Chicago PMI Rises to 10-Month High in February: The pace of business activity in the U.S. Midwest picked up more than expected in February to its highest level in 10 months as new orders and employment gained, a report showed on Wednesday. http://www.cnbc.com/id/46570308
Company News Update
- Apple (AAPL) shares moved higher, boosting the company's value on the stock market to above $500 billion -- another record high for what was already the world's most valuable company.
- BlackRock Inc. (BLK)’s Laurence D. Fink said savers need to become more aggressive investors as returns on bank accounts and Treasuries shrink and people grow older. The traditional mix of putting 60 percent of assets in stocks and 40 percent in bonds is inadequate in a “new world” characterized by an aging population, a reduction in borrowing and risk-taking by individuals and governments, and a greater role of emerging economies.
- Shares of News Corp (NWSA) rose, after the publishing company announced that James Murdoch stepped down as executive chairman of theU.K. publishing unit. The son of Rupert Murdoch has been embroiled in questions over his role in aU.K. hacking scandal.
- First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar panels, tumbled 10 percent after reporting an unexpected loss.
- Staples Inc. (SPLS) declined 9.3 percent to $14.51. The world’s largest office products company gave a 2012 forecast that was “lower quality” than analysts expected, Jefferies Group Inc.’s Daniel Binder wrote in a report.
- MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS) dropped 6.5 percent to $10.30. The Texas-based pay-as-you-go wireless carrier was cut to “neutral” from “buy” at UBS AG.
- Costco (COST) posted a bigger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday, as rising gasoline prices led more members to fill up at the warehouse club's discounted gas stations and then shop inside.
- Shares of Liz Claiborne (LIZ) fell despite posting fourth-quarter earnings in line with expectations, and better-than-expected sales.
- General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen will seek to squeeze a joint $2 billion annually from a global platforms to purchasing alliance, but the savings will not be fully realised for five years, the automakers said on Wednesday.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Ray Dalio’s Pure Alpha hedge fund made $13.8 billion for its investors last year, while John Paulson lost clients almost $10 billion after an unsuccessful wager that theU.S. economy would recover, according to a report by LCH Investments NV.
- Last year was one of the worst on record for hedge funds, but the industry appears to be shrugging off the bad times. According to Deutsche Bank's latest Alternative Investment Survey, hedge fund assets are expected to rise 12 percent to a record $2.26 trillion this year.
- Fortress Investment Group, the alternative investments giant, said the fourth quarter of 2011 was bad just about all around. Distributable profit plummeted 60% as hedge fund fees dried up, with earnings missing analysts' expectations.
- China has decided in principle to allow foreign hedge funds to raise capital on the mainland, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, a move that can potentially open up opportunities for the capital-starved Asian hedge fund industry.
- Healthcare Locums (LON:HLO) lost a fifth of its value in early trade after revealing that an American hedge fund has filed proceedings against the recruitment firm. The proceedings have been filed by Permian Master Fund, Permian Investments Partners, Arundel Capital, Arundel Long Fund, Arundel Hedge Fund, Privet Capital and Flinn Investments.
- Pictet Asset Management’s Ucits-compliant credit hedge fund, Kosmos, has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the last three months. AuM at the Pictet Total Return-Kosmos fund, which launched in June 2011 with €66m ($88.9m), reached €330m ($444.3m) earlier this month, having attracted €190m ($255.8m) since mid-November.
- Bridgewater Associates, the world's biggest hedge fund, handed clients $13.8 billion last year, catapulting founder Ray Dalio above long-time rivals such as George Soros and John Paulson as the industry's biggest money maker in 2011, research showed.
- Edward Lampert, the hedge fund manager who controls Sears Holdings Corp., has more than $160 million in paper profits on shares of the retailer acquired last month from a long-standing client, the Ziff family.
- The £8.67bn ($13.6bn) West Midlands Pension Fund, the largest local government allocator to hedge funds in England, is reviewing the position of chief investment officer (CIO), as part of a number of redundancy consultations.
- Camargue Capital Management, the London-based hedge fund firm founded by former Soros Fund Management and GLG Partners trader Benn