- US: Dow: 13008.11 (0.43%), S&P 500: 1375.95 (0.77%), NASDAQ: 2995.92 (0.98%)
- Europe: CAC: 3499.73 (1.35%), DAX: 6941.77 (1.23%), FTSE: 5931.25 (1.01%).
- Asia-Pacific:Australia: 4255.50 (-1.00%),China: 2426.11 (-0.10%),Hong Kong: 21387.96 (-1.37%),India: 5339.75 (-0.84%),Japan: 9707.37 (-0.16%)
- Metals: Gold: 1721.20 (0.58%), Silver: 35.52 (2.53%), Copper: 3.93 (1.37%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 108.33 (1.18%), Natural Gas: 2.48 (-5.20%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.54 (-0.49%), Soya Bean: 13.22 (0.21%), Wheat: 6.67 (-0.07%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3316 (-0.07%), GBP/USD: 1.5959 (0.29%), USD/JPY: 81.1500 (0.00%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.044% (0.070)
Market News Update
U.S. markets advance: U.S. stocks rose early Thursday as investors digested mostly positive economic news and monitored testimony from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) was up 30 points, or 0.3%, in late morning trading. The S&P 500 (SPX) added 5 points, or 0.4%. The NASDAQ (COMP) advanced 12 points, or 0.4%. http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/01/markets/stocks/index.htm?iid=HP_LN
Weak Manufacturing Data Raise Questions about Recovery: Growth inU.S.manufacturing unexpectedly cooled in February and consumer spending was flat in January for the third straight month after accounting for inflation, casting a pall over the economic outlook. The Institute for Supply Management said on Thursday its index of national factory activity fell to 52.4 last month from 54.1 the month before. The reading was shy of expectations of 54.5.
US Autos See another Sales Jump in February: Chrysler, Nissan and Volkswagen all reported strong U.S. sales in February, kicking off what is expected to be another strong month for automakers. Chrysler said its sales were up 40 percent from a year earlier as it sold nearly 134,000 new cars and trucks and all of its brands showed at least double-digit increases. Volkswagen sales rose 42 percent to nearly 31,000, led by the redesigned Passat midsize sedan. And Nissan sales were up 15.5 percent.
IMF Says Global Economy Still Facing Major Risk from European Debt Crisis: The global economy faces “major downside risks” as its recovery continues to be threatened by stresses in the euro area, the International Monetary Fund said in a report prepared for the Group of 20 nations. The world economic expansion will slow to 3.3 percent this year from 3.8 percent in 2011, according to the surveillance report prepared for the meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors inMexico City Feb 25-26. The euro economy is forecast to contract 0.5 percent this year, compared with growth of 1.6 percent in 2011.
Crude advances for second day: Oil climbed a second day as theU.S. increased pressure onIran to halt its nuclear program and improving American economic data bolstered optimism that fuel demand will grow. Futures inNew York rose as much as 1.2 percent asU.S. officials escalated warnings that the nation may joinIsrael in attackingIran.
Company News Update
- Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the most creditworthy of the six biggest U.S. banks based on derivatives trading, is planning $2.5 billion of debt at almost half the relative yield that rival JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) paid last month.
- Ford Motor (F) and Chrysler Group reported a big jump in February sales. Analysts are forecasting the best month for auto sales in four years in February, and the results from Chrysler and Ford are a good start for the industry to hit those targets. Other automakers such as General Motors (GM) and Toyota Motor (TM) are due to report results later Thursday.
- Wal-Mart (WMT) revealed plans on Thursday to boost its annual dividend by 9% as the world’s largest retailer expresses “high expectations” for the full fiscal year.
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) jumped 4.7 percent to $120.50. The fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets agreed to buy Ariel Holdings Ltd.’s Bermuda-based insurance and reinsurance businesses to expand property and casualty coverage.
- Monster Worldwide Inc. (MWW), the online recruiting service, rose as much as 12 percent after Chief Executive Officer Salvatore Iannuzzi said he’s considering “strategic alternatives” to boost shareholder value.
- Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) lost 4.1 percent to $13.59. Jefferies & Co. cut its earnings estimate and said there’s a greater than 50 percent chance that the maker of BlackBerrys will miss its device sales forecast for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in February.
- Boosted by surprisingly strong customer traffic, discount retailer Target (TGT) said Thursday it generated a better-than-expected 7% leap in February same-store sales.
- Grocery chain Kroger’s (KR) stock was also higher thanks to better-than-expected fourth-quarter results.
- Wendy’s (WEN) reported in-line adjusted fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday as the fast-food company benefited from stronger-than expected sales.
- Piper Jaffray Cos. (PJC), the investment bank and asset manager founded in 1895, jumped the most in four months after Mergermarket said the company may be sold to a Chinese securities firm.
- Deere (DE) will invest $70 million to expand manufacturing capacity at its facility inWaterloo,Iowa that makes large farm tractors.
- Sotheby’s (BID) dropped 8.7 percent to $35.92. The publicly traded auctioneer of fine arts and collectibles said fourth- quarter profit fell 26 percent as sales slid.
Hedge Fund News Update
- The top 40 highest-earning hedge fund managers took home a combined $13.2 billion, according to a Forbes magazine survey. The top 10 hedge fund managers made more than $200 million each, while the lowest earning managers made $40 million each.
- Deutsche Bank’s tenth annual Alternative Investment Survey, which was conducted in December 2011 by the Bank’s Global Prime Finance business, predicts increased institutional participation in driving growth as hedge funds become an established and formidable part of the investment landscape.
- Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FFH), with seven of eight hedge funds it accused of spreading false rumors out of a lawsuit, may see the $24 billion case shrink again with a judge poised to rule whether racketeering counts allowing triple damages should be tossed.
- HSBC’s alternative asset management arm is scouring the market for promising new hedge fund managers, whose ranks are swelling ahead of the imposition of the Volcker rule, which cracks down on banks trading with their own money. The rule could prove a boon for HSBC’s recently launched emerging manager programme as it is providing hedge fund managers across strategies such as long-short equity, distressed debt and trading funds.
- A positive update from hedge fund group Man has seen it climb to the top of a rising FTSE 100. Its shares have been a volatile market in recent months, following news in September of a poor trading performance and subsequent job cuts announced in January. But now the company has reported clients were starting to return after withdrawing their money in the second half of last year, partly on worries about the performance of the company’s funds. In