- US: Dow: 12905.29 (0.53%), S&P 500: 1364.90 (0.91%), NASDAQ: 2968.28 (1.11%)
- Europe: CAC: 3478.36 (2.47%), DAX: 6834.54 (2.39%), FTSE: 5859.73 (1.17%).
- Asia-Pacific:Australia: 4171.00 (0.66%),China: 2420.28 (1.05%),Hong Kong: 20900.73 (1.31%),India: 5220.45 (-0.04%),Japan: 9768.96 (1.97%).
- Metals: Gold: 1697.40 (0.80%), Silver: 33.74 (0.45%), Copper: 3.79 (0.52%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 106.67 (0.48%), Natural Gas: 2.25 (-2.17%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.35 (-0.51%), Soya Bean: 13.32 (0.40%), Wheat: 6.35 (-0.59%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3264 (0.8721%), GBP/USD: 1.5830 (0.5558%), USD/JPY: 81.6430 (0.6810%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.010% (0.035)
Market News Update
U.S. markets rise amid Greek optimism: U.S. stocks headed higher Thursday, as investors grew hopeful that private-sector bondholders are on the verge of accepting a debt-swap deal with Greece. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 72 points, or 0.6%, the S&P 500 (SPX) gained 12 points, or 0.9%, and the NASDAQ (COMP) rose 31 points, or 1.1%. http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/08/markets/stocks/index.htm?iid=HP_LN
Consumer confidence in U.S. rises: Household confidence improved last week to a four-year high as more Americans said the economy was improving and decided it was a good time to shop. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (COMFCOMF) was minus 36.7 in the period ended March 4, the highest since April 2008, up from minus 38.8 in the prior period. The gauge on the state of the economy reached a one-year high, while the buying-climate measure climbed to a level last exceeded in December 2009. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-08/u-s-consumer-confidence-reaches-a-four-year-high-bloomberg-index-shows.html
Oil rises for the second day: U.S. light, sweet crude was up 68 cents at $106.84, off the session high of $107.20. Front-month U.S. crude hit $110.55 on March 1, highest since May last year. Brent crude futures traded at $125.81 a barrel, gaining $1.69, after surging to a session high of $126.34. That was the highest since March 1, when front-month Brent hit $128.40, the priciest since July 2008. Brent’s premium againstU.S. crude widened to above $19, having risen to $17.96 on Wednesday afterU.S. government data showed that stocks at the Cushing,Oklahoma, delivery hug shot up last week to the highest level in eight months.
Gold edges higher: Gold edged higher on Thursday, but eased from session highs after the euro declined when the European Central Bank cut its growth forecasts for the region and signaled its role in fighting the debt crisis was over. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/08/us-markets-precious-idUSTRE82403220120308
Company News Update
- Shares for McDonald’s (MCD) fell after the fast food franchise said that same-store sales rose 7.5% in February but listed several factors that could impact its first-quarter operating income growth.
- American International Group Inc. (AIG) slumped 2.6 percent to $28.69. The U.S. Treasury Department is selling $6 billion in shares of American International Group Inc., the insurer rescued in 2008 after it suffered losses tied to wrong-way bets on the mortgage market.
- Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) slid 1 percent to $84.95. The company expects its natural-gas and oil production to drop 3 percent in 2012. Exxon’s forecast is based on an average price of $111 a barrel for Brent crude, it said in a slide presentation at an investor meeting today.
- Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) shares rose after the brewer reported quarterly earnings and sales that topped forecasts, and issued an upbeat outlook.
- Monster Worldwide Inc. (MWW) surged 5.9 percent to $8.82. The online recruiting service that has lost almost 90 percent of its value is poised to extract a record takeover premium for investors. Chief Executive Officer Salvatore Iannuzzi said last week he is weighing options to boost the company’s shares after Monster traded as low as 0.67 times the value of its net assets. competitor, said Matrix Asset Advisors Inc.
- Dendreon Corp. (DNDN) tumbled 10 percent to $9.73, the most in the Russell 1000 Index. The maker of the prostate cancer drug Provenge slumped after Johnson & Johnson said its rival product, Zytiga, performed better than a placebo in a trial.
- Green Mountain’s (GMCR) stock dropped as Starbucks (SBUX) announced that it will “announce a new strategic initiative in the Premium Single Cup Category” later Thursday.GreenMountain, which dominates the single-serve market with its popular K-Cup, already has a deal with Starbucks to serve K-Cup versions of theSeattle chain’s coffee and tea products, but Starbucks’ statement did not mentionGreenMountain’s involvement in its new initiative.
- Apple Inc. (AAPL) took over from Wells Fargo as the stock most often in the top 10 holdings of the 50 largest mutual funds in the fourth quarter, and widened its lead among the biggest hedge funds, Citigroup Inc. said.
- Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the bank with the mostU.S. branches, ended free checking in six easternU.S. states as it seeks to recover revenue lost to new financial rules.
- Bayer AG (BAYN), the largest German drugmaker, is weighing a bid for Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE) animal-health unit and discussing how to raise funding with banks, said people with knowledge of the plans.
- Fender Musical Instruments Corp., the largest seller of guitars in theU.S., plans to sell as much as $200 million worth of shares in an initial public offering. JPMorgan Securities LLC and William Blair & Co. LLC are advising on the proposed offering.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Republican Eric Hovde, the CEO of hedge fund firm Hovde Capital Advisors, will enter the race for the seat held by retiring Wisconsin U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, according to an Associated Press report.
- Goldman Sachs began this month unwinding its investments in hedge funds to comply with the Volcker Rule’s ban on banks holding more than 3% of the assets of any single fund. The process will take more than two years. It will redeem up to 10% of its stakes in certain hedge funds each quarter over ten consecutive quarters, starting in March 2012 and ending in June 2014.
- · Hedge funds posted their strongest start to a calendar year since 2000, with significant contributions from strategy areas which underperformed in 2011.
- Yoshihito Asakawa, a former Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. trader, will start a Japan-focused hedge fund in May that will invest in credit derivatives and currencies. Asakawa, 31, plans to start with about ¥500 million in initial capital raised from investors he found through his own blog, and eventually wants to raise ¥2 billion within two years, he said. The fund will target about a 15 percent to 20 percent return annually, he said.
- SS&C Technologies Holdings Inc. (SSNC) offered to buy GlobeOp Financial Services SA (GO) for about 517 million pounds ($816 million), trumping TPG Capital Inc.’s bid for the hedge-fund administrator.
- Rule Financial, an independent provider of business consultancy, IT consultancy and IT services to the global hedge fund community, announced its acquisition of North American consultancy, Waterline Group. This strategic acquisition will accelerate Rule Financial’s growth inNorth America, providing an entry point to the Canadian market, and will complement the consultancy’s existing presence inNew York. Waterline Group will be fully-absorbed into Rule Financial and will operate under the Rule Financial brand.
- Investment advisor 361 Capital has entered into a strategic partnership with Lighthouse Partners, a fund-of-hedge-funds and managed account investment adviser. As per the partnership, Lighthouse Partners will have a minority equity stake in 361 Capital and access to its affiliated advisors and intermediaries.
- By the close of business on Feb. 28, hedge funds and other money managers had amassed one of the largest net long positions inU.S.crude futures and options on record. Their positioning was more one-way than any time