- US: Dow: 12369.40 (-0.59%), S&P 500: 1295.22 (-0.74%), NASDAQ: 2778.79 (-1.24%)
- Europe: CAC: 3008.00 (-0.13%), DAX: 6271.22 (-0.60%), FTSE: 5267.62 (-1.34%).
- Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4046.50 (-2.67%), China: 2344.52 (-1.47%), Hong Kong: 18951.85 (-1.31%), India: 4891.45 (0.44%), Japan: 8611.31 (-3.08%).
- Metals: Gold: 1592.90 (1.14%), Silver: 28.71 (2.48%), Copper: 3.43 (-1.18%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 91.34 (-1.32%), Natural Gas: 2.73 (5.32%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.35 (1.68%), Soya Bean: 14.05 (-2.29%), Wheat: 6.95 (5.70%)
- Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2782 (0.66%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5818 (0.13%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.0200 (-0.33%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 1.723% (0.026)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets decline for the sixth day: U.S. markets closed lower on Friday as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s record initial public offering failed offset investor concerns about Europe’s debt crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) slipped 0.59 percent, to close at 12,369.38. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) dropped 0.74 percent to end at 1,295.22, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) erased 1.24 percent to finish at 2,779.79.
Oil below $92: Oil prices dropped to a six-month low, below $92, as Greece’s political turmoil revived concerns that Greece will leave the euro zone, further compounding Europe’s debt problems. Crude oil for June delivery fell 1.3 percent, to settle at $91.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for July settlement slipped 0.3 percent to $107.14 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Company News Update
- Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), which priced its initial public offering at $38 a share, jumped more than 10 percent to $42 when it started trading today, before ending the day 0.7 percent higher at $38.23.
- Shares of online game publisher Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA), which generates a bulk of its revenue from Facebook, were halted for trading twice today as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s tepid debut weakened investor enthusiasm for the stock.
- Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is slashing board pay by about 20 percent, and has stopped the use of company airplanes by members for personal travel.
- General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), the largest U.S. conglomerate, is looking at doubling the number of joint ventures it has in China in about five years, group vice-chairman John Rice said in Hong Kong today.
- According to media reports, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is working on a multibillion-dollar deal to sell half of its stake in Chinese Internet giant Alibaba. Shares of Yahoo jumped 3.7 percent in trade today.
- Women’s apparel retailer Ann Inc (NYSE:ANN) reported first quarter net income of $28.7 million, or 58 cents a share, topping expectations by 7 cents. Revenue increased 7 percent to $560.4 million, slightly below the average analysts’ estimate of $560.8 million.
- Brown Shoe Company, Inc. (NYSE:BWS), the owner of the Famous Footwear stores reported first quarter profit of $1.7 million or 4 cents per share, that beat estimates, and it raised its full-year outlook. The stock soared 25 percent.
- Home decor and gift retailer Kirkland’s, Inc. (NASDAQ:KIRK) reported a 38 percent drop in first quarter profit to $1.96 million, or 10 cents a share, on the back of falling same store sales. The Nashville, Tennessee-based company also slashed its full-year earnings estimate.
- Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO), the biggest U.S. maker of motor homes, received a $322 million takeover offer from Connecticut-based private equity firm North Street Capital LP, but rejected the bid because it lacked details.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) had tried to buy home lender Residential Capital from the government-owned Ally Financial Inc., prior to its bankruptcy filing this week, Bloomberg reported.
- Billionaire hedge fund manager T. Boone Pickens has sold almost half a million shares of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) in the past six weeks, as the troubled oil and gas producer tumbled 24 percent. Pickens’ Dallas-based BP Capital Management LP fund sold 71,000 shares in the first three months of the year, and sold another 499,055 shares by May 10.
- Hedge fund firm Toscafund’s chief economist Savvas Savouri said that the chances of Greece leaving the euro zone are very slim, because in next month’s elections, he expects Greeks to vote for political parties that back the single currency and the 130 billion euro ($165 billion) bailout.
- Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management has succeeded in placing all seven of its nominees to the board of Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (USA) (NYSE:CP). Ackman gained a seat in the board along with six of his nominees, Gary Colter, Paul Hilal, Paul Haggis, Rebecca MacDonald, Dr. Anthony Melman and Stephen Tobias.
- According to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, hedge funds increased their bets on a weaker euro to the highest level since the common currency’s inception in 1999.
- BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK), the world’s largest asset manager, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, that it has raised more than $300 million for a Cayman Islands-domiciled hedge fund.
- New York-based hedge fund firm, Lees Hill Capital Management, founded by two former QVT Financial principals, Kevin McGoey and Yi Cen, will launch its maiden hedge fund, an event-driven fund focused on both stocks and bonds, in the third quarter, with more than $100 million in initial assets.
- Eric Evans, the healthcare hedge fund manager at SAC Capital Advisors has left the firm to possibly start his own hedge fund.
- David Cooksey, the former head of the U.K. government’s bank bailout fund, has joined the advisory board of the Greenwich, Connecticut-based hedge fund Strategic Value Partners.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Friday, May 18, 2012
- BHP Billiton Limited (ADR) (NYSE:BHP) was upgraded to “outperform” from “sector perform” at RBC Capital Mkts.
- Hub Group Inc. (NASDAQ:HUBG) was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $41.
- Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $24.
- Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:PBH) was raised to “outperform” from “perform” at Oppenheimer with a target price of $17.
- Anglo American plc (ADR) (PINK:AAUKY) was cut to “sector perform” from “outperform” at RBC Capital Mkts.
- GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) was downgraded to “average” from “buy” at Caris & Company with a target price of $20.
- Identive Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:INVE) was cut to “in-line” from “outperform” at Imperial Capital with a target price of $1.5.
- Power One Inc (NASDAQ:PWER) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Cantor Fitzgerald with a target price of $5.
- Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY) was cut to “underweight” from “equal weight” at Barclays with a target price of $27.
- Tupperware Brands Corporation (NYSE:TUP) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Argus.