Every afternoon we provides an update on global market levels, economic news, and hedge fund news.

 Market Levels

 * US: Dow: 13038.30 (-1.27%), S&P 500: 1369.10 (-1.61%), NASDAQ: 2956.34 (-2.25%)

* Europe: CAC: 3161.97 (-1.94%), DAX: 6561.47 (-2.03%), FTSE: 5655.06 (-1.97%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4396.00 (-0.75%), China: 2452.01 (0.49%), Hong Kong: 21086.00 (-0.78%), India: 5086.85 (-1.96%), Japan: 9380.25 (0.00%).

* Metals: Gold: 1645.20 (0.64%), Silver: 30.43 (1.41%), Copper: 3.72 (-0.40%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 98.49 (-3.95%), Natural Gas: 2.28 (-2.61%)

* Commodities: Corn: 6.20 (0.94%), Soya Bean: 13.66 (-0.07%), Wheat: 6.09 (-0.97%)

* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3084 (0.53%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6160 (0.16%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.8150 (-0.46%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.877% (-0.054)

Market and Economy News Update

 U.S. markets end lower: Markets ended lower on Friday after a disappointing reading from the jobs market intensified concerns about the strength of the economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) fell for the third consecutive session, tumbling 1.27 percent, to close at 13,038.27. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) posted its biggest weekly drop this year, to finish at 1,369.10, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) plunged 2.25 percent, to end at 2,956.34.

 Oil prices tumble: Oil prices tumbled to the lowest level since early February, as weaker than expected reading on U.S. employment soured economic sentiment. Crude oil for June delivery plunged $4.05 to $98.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for June settlement declined 2.5 percent to end the session at $113.18 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Company News Update

 * Risk and insurance brokerage service provider Aon PLC (NYSE:AON) reported first quarter profit excluding some items of 98 cents a shares, below the average analyst estimate of $1.06 a share. Top line results were up 3 percent and in line with street expectations.

* Fluor Corporation (NYSE:FLR), the largest publicly traded U.S. construction company reported first quarter net profit rose of $155 million, or 91 cents per share, better than the 87 cents per share that analysts were expecting.

* Natural gas producer Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE:SWN) reported first quarter earnings of 31 cents per share, and sales of $656.5 million, that missed analysts’ estimates.

* Toy maker LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:LF) posted better than expected first quarter results, helped by robust demand for its LeapPad learning tablet, and raised its full-year guidance.

* Clothing maker Warnaco Group Inc (NYSE:WRC) posted first quarter earnings from continuing operations of 90 cents a share, trailing the average analyst estimate of 93 cents a share.

* Toning down its plans to repurchase its stock, United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS) approved a new $5 billion share buyback program, freeing up cash for its proposed acquisition of Dutch rival TNT Express.

* The Food and Drug Administration denied marketing approval to Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXA)’s schizophrenic and bipolar disorder treatment Adasuve, citing manufacturing deficiencies.

* GeoEye Inc. (NASDAQ:GEOY), a provider of geospatial information, has offered to buy rival DigitalGlobe Inc (NYSE:DGI) for $792 million in cash and stock.

Hedge Fund News Update

* Private-equity and hedge fund manager, Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE:FIG), posted a first quarter loss of $24.1 million, but the results still beat Wall Street expectations. The New York-based Fortress said assets under management totaled $46.43 billion at the end of the first quarter, up from $43.71 billion at the end of the fourth quarter.

* Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors bought 132,821 shares of Clearwater Paper Corp (NYSE:CLW) on May 1 at $32 per share, increasing his total holding to 6.32 percent of shares outstanding. Cohen also bought 2,671,372 shares of Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ:SCSS), the bed manufacturer and retailer, on April 30 at an average price of $29.

* Hugh Hendry of Eclectica Asset Management said that China is headed for some tough time ahead, with its twin problems of a massive property bubble and falling demand for its exports.

* PDuff & Phelps Corp (NYSE:DUF) is struggling to raise capital from institutional investors. The Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm, launched last year, has also cut more than half of its staff, according to a Bloomberg article.

* According to a quarterly report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Carl Icahn has sold a net $3.7 billion of securities in the three months ended March 31.

* Hedge fund Jana Partners LLC sold around 1 million shares of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS) at $24.42 each, on the same day that Microsoft announced its $605 million investment in the book seller.

* Singapore-based Vulpes Investment Management, set up by hedge-fund manager Stephen Diggle, plans to raise as much as US$150 million for an agriculture fund.

* New York-based asset management firm Permal Group has hired former head of distribution at Skybridge Capital, Max Osborne as senior vice president and head of US domestic distribution.

* Hedge fund governance advisory firm, Carne Group has hired Fred Schilling, the former senior managing director at Bear Stearns, as a managing director in its U.S. office.

Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Friday, May 04, 2012

 * The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL) was raised to “overweight” from “equal weight” at Barclays with a target price of $39.

* Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAWW) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Maxim Group with a target price of $65.

* BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Standpoint Research with a target price of $210.

* Constant Contact, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTCT) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $33.

* Parkway Prop Inc (NYSE:PKY) was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $11.5.

 * BioMed Realty Trust Inc (NYSE:BMR) was downgraded from “buy” to “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus.

* Gen-Probe Incorporated (NASDAQ:GPRO) was cut from “outperform” to “neutral” at Robert W. Baird with a target price of $83.

* Mednax Inc. (NYSE:MD) was downgraded from “buy” to “hold” at Deutsche Bank with a target price of $73.

* Prudential Financial Inc (NYSE:PRU) was cut from “overweight” to “equal weight” at Barclays with a target price of $62.

* Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) was downgraded from “buy” to “neutral” at Ladenburg Thalmann.


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