Every afternoon We provide you an update on global market levels, economic news, and hedge fund news.

Market Levels

 * US: Dow: 12927.20 (-0.78%), S&P 500: 1366.94 (-0.84%), NASDAQ: 2970.45 (-1.00%)

* Europe: CAC: 3098.37 (-2.91%), DAX: 6523.00 (-3.48%), FTSE: 5665.57 (-1.88%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4352.40 (-0.32%), China: 2388.59 (-0.76%), Hong Kong: 20624.39 (-1.87%), India: 5200.60 (-1.71%), Japan: 9542.17 (-0.20%).

* Metals: Gold: 1632.60 (-0.62%), Silver: 30.53 (-3.54%), Copper: 3.63 (-1.95%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 103.11 (-0.74%), Natural Gas: 2.01 (4.15%)

* Commodities: Corn: 6.12 (1.58%), Soya Bean: 13.41 (-1.07%), Wheat: 6.32 (1.52%)

* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3154 (-0.02%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6126 (-0.03%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 81.1700 (-0.01%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.935% (-0.028)

Market and Economy News Update

U.S. markets end lower: Markets joined a global equity market sell-off but recovered somewhat in afternoon trading, as weak data from the euro zone and political uncertainty in France made investors nervous. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) ended the day down 0.8 percent, while the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) shed 0.8 percent. The NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) ended 1 percent lower.

 Oil declines: Oil fell today on worries that a slowdown in growth in China could diminish consumption. Crude oil for May delivery declined 0.74 percent to $103.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for June settlement dropped 5 cents to end the session at $118.71 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Company News Update

* Facebook’s first-quarter profit fell 12 percent due to higher operating costs. California-based Facebook said in a regulatory filing, net income for the quarter was $205 million, down from $302 million in the fourth quarter, while revenue rose 45 percent to $1.06 billion.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) reported a lower than expected first-quarter loss of  8 cents a share, while revenue came in at $870 million, which was also better than the $867 million which analysts were expecting.

* Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ:TXN), the largest maker of analog semiconductors, reported a 60 percent slump in first-quarter profits, amid softer demand for wireless products. But the Dallas-based company provided an optimistic outlook for future growth as customers stock up on electronic parts ahead of a projected rise in demand.

* Facebook will pay Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) about $550 million for some 650 patents that it acquired from AOL, Inc. (NYSE:AOL) two weeks ago for $1 billion.

* News and information company, Thomson Reuters Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TRI), has agreed to sell its health-care division to private equity firm Veritas Capital for $1.25 billion in cash, as it tries to focus more on its ailing core financial-markets business.

* ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) said first quarter earnings fell 3 percent due to a decline in production and lower refining earnings. The Houston company posted earnings of $2.02 a share, which fell short of average analysts’ estimate of a $2.08 a share.

* Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS), the world’s second-biggest toymaker reported a weaker than expected first-quarter earnings, as the toy maker’s North American sales slid.

* U.S. auto retailer Sonic Automotive Inc (NYSE:SAH) posted first-quarter sales and earnings that trailed analysts’ estimates. First quarter earnings stood at $20.5 million, or 35 cents per share, up from $15 million, or 26 cents per share, in the first three months of 2011.

* Restaurant operator Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT), reported fiscal third-quarter sales and profit that topped Wall Street expectations. The operator of the Chili’s restaurant chain reported a profit of $44.9 million, or 56 cents a share, up from $40.2 million, or 45 cents, in the same quarter last year.

* Tennant Company (NYSE:TNC), the Golden Valley-based cleaning technology company, reported $5.3 million, or 28 cents a share, missing the average analyst estimate of 39 cents a share.

Hedge Fund News Update

* Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission reveal that hedge funds cut their long positions by the most in four months on growing concerns that the European debt crisis will severely affect global growth and reduce demand for raw materials. In the week ended April 17, hedge fund managers cut their net-long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 11 percent to 898,022 contracts.

* Hedge fund Jana Partners said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it owns nearly 7 million shares of New York-based bookseller, Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), or about 12.5 percent of its 55.9 million outstanding shares.

* According to a new report from BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, hedge funds added 17 percent to their shorts on the Euro over last week.

* UK-based investment manager Schroders is planning to launch a new high income fund of funds, the Schroder Managed Monthly High Income fund, on May 21. The fund will be co-managed by senior fixed income portfolio manager, Gareth Isaac and veteran maximiser fund manager Thomas See, and will invest across its range of income maximiser and bond funds

* A recent survey by JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s (NYSE:JPM) Tokyo-based asset management unit, found that over 20 percent of Japanese pension funds are planning to invest more in hedge funds.

* Reuters has reported that Macquarie’s Asia hedge fund has exited its short positions in Indian single stock futures, in response to two recent Indian provisions to tax indirect investments and combat tax evasion, that could lower investment returns.