* US: Dow: 13091.44 (-0.88%), S&P 500: 1400.67 (-0.84%), NASDAQ: 3094.96 (-0.81%)
* Europe: CAC: 3430.15 (-1.15%), DAX: 6998.80 (-1.14%), FTSE: 5808.99 (-1.04%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4343.50 (0.98%), China: 2284.88 (-2.73%), Hong Kong: 20885.52 (-0.77%), India: 5194.75 (-0.92%), Japan: 10182.57 (-0.71%).
* Metals: Gold: 1656.10 (-1.71%), Silver: 31.86 (-2.33%), Copper: 3.79 (0.05%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 105.03 (-2.15%), Natural Gas: 2.19 (-0.72%)
* Commodities: Corn: 6.21 (-1.51%), Soya Bean: 13.69 (-0.05%), Wheat: 6.31 (-1.29%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3305 (-0.08%), GBP/USD: 1.5882 (-0.43%), USD/JPY: 82.7600 (-0.50%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 2.191% (0.009)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets trading in the red: Markets were firmly in the red on Wednesday as a slump in crude oil prices pushed materials and energy sectors lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) and NASDAQ (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) was all trading close to a percent lower..
Demand for durable goods rises: According to Commerce Department data released today, new orders for durable U.S. factory goods rose less than expected in February. Durable goods orders rose 2.2 percent last month, after a revised 3.6 percent decline in January. Economists had forecast orders rising 3.0 percent in February.
Fed study shows unemployment will drop more than expected: According to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the jobless rate in the U.S. could fall to as low as 6 percent by the first half of 2013, much lower than what most economists currently project.
Oil down 2 percent: A big rise in U.S. crude inventories saw oil dropped for the first time in four days. Futures declined as much as 2.5 percent partly due to Western nations considering releasing crude from strategic reserves. The U.S. Energy Department said inventories climbed the most in 20 months. Brent oil for May settlement fell 1.2 percent on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Company News Update
* Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) fell more than 1.5 percent after a weekly report on crude-oil inventories showed U.S. stockpiles increasing much more than expected.
* Verizon Corporation (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) were among the Dow’s biggest decliners after RBC downgraded Verizon Communications to “sector perform” from “outperform.”
* Annie’s (BNNY) made its debut today, and the organic food company soared more than 70 percent in the first hour of trade.
* Vocera Communications, Inc. (VCRA) also debuted on the NYSE, and its shares were trading more than 40 percent higher.
* Regional Management Corp. (RM) was the third company to go public today and was up more than 10 PERCENT.
* Women’s-apparel retailer, Christopher & Banks (NYSE:CBK), slumped 15 percent after posting a wider than expected fiscal fourth-quarter loss, and a less than anticipated revenue.
* Robbins & Myers, Inc. (NYSE:RBN), the maker of equipment for energy, chemical and industrial producers, surged 9 percent after raising its full-year earnings outlook. The company reported fiscal second-quarter results that beat analysts estimates.
* Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF) lost close to a percent after Citigroup removed the company from its “top picks” list.
* Biotechnology company, Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA), slid 12 percent after it was cut to “neutral” from “overweight” at Piper Jaffray Cos.
* Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Best Buy Co, Inc. (NYSE:BBY) are slated to post earnings later today.
Hedge Fund News Update
* London-based The Children’s Investment Fund has formally accused the Indian government of violating international treaties related to its investments in Coal India (NSE:COALINDIA). The hedge fund owns 2 percent of Coal India.
* Man Group has launched an online portal, Clarus, to provide greater transparency to investors in its managed accounts.
* The $76bn Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) has assigned a further $170 million to direct investments in hedge funds. OPERS allocated $90m and $80m, respectively, to Canyon Value Realization Fund, a credit-oriented fund, and Ascend Partners Fund II, a long/short equity fund.
* In an effort to double their hedge fund allocation, The New Jersey State Investment Council last week awarded $150 million to Claren Road Asset Management, $200 million to BlueCrest Capital Management and $100 million to Cadian Capital Management.
* The $7.3billion fund of hedge funds, Notz Stucki, is planning to launch a global distressed fund later this year.
* Minnesota-based credit hedge fund manager, Waterstone Capital Management, L.P., will roll-out a distressed debt fund, Waterstone Distressed Opportunities Master Fund Ltd., on April 2, 2012.