updateEvery afternoon  we provide an update on global market levels, economic news, company news and hedge fund news.

Market Levels

 * US: Dow: 12496.20 (-0.05%), S&P 500: 1318.86 (0.17%), NASDAQ: 2850.12 (0.39%)

* Europe: CAC: 3003.27 (-2.69%), DAX: 6285.75 (-2.38%), FTSE: 5266.41 (-2.60%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4067.00 (-1.31%), China: 2363.44 (-0.42%), Hong Kong: 18786.19 (-1.35%), India: 4835.65 (-0.51%), Japan: 8556.60 (-1.70%).

* Metals: Gold: 1548.40 (-1.79%), Silver: 27.52 (-2.34%), Copper: 3.40 (-2.61%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 89.90 (-2.12%), Natural Gas: 2.74 (1.11%)

* Commodities: Corn: 6.03 (1.09%), Soya Bean: 12.57 (-1.91%), Wheat: 6.65 (-2.92%)

* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2582 (0.81%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5691 (0.45%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.4550 (-0.64%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.735% (-0.034)

Market and Economy News Update

U.S. markets recover to end mixed: U.S. markets erased early losses to finish narrowly mixed on Wednesday amid growing investor optimism that leaders in Europe will do more to halt contagion from the region’s debt crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) slipped 0.05 percent to close at 12,496.15. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 0.17 percent to end at 1,318.86, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.39 percent to finish at 2,850.12.

 Oil prices fall: Oil prices fell below $90 on Wednesday as U.S. crude inventories increased to a 22-year high, and hopes of a deal between Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog eased concerns of oil supply disruptions. Crude oil for June delivery slipped 2.1 percent, to settle at $89.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for July settlement declined 2.6 percent to $105.56 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Company News Update

 * Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) posted fiscal second adjusted profit of 98 cents a share, on revenue of $30.7 billion that topped the average analysts’ estimate of profit of 91 cents a share on revenue of $29.9 billion. The world’s largest PC maker however forecast fiscal third quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates, and said it will cut 27,000 jobs, or about 8 percent of its work-force.

* Data storage equipment maker NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP) reported fourth quarter adjusted net income of 66 cents a share that was above Wall Street’s expectations, but forecast first quarter per-share earnings of 34 cents to 39 cents on revenue of $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion, that was much lower than what analysts were looking for.

* Internet radio company Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) reported a fiscal first-quarter loss excluding one time items of 9 cents a share on revenue of $80.8 million that were better than analysts’ projections of a loss of 17 cents a share on $74.4 million in revenue.

* After Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s disappointing initial public offering last week on the NASDAQ bourse, the NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) is talking with the social networking site about the possibility of the company switching its listing, Reuters reported. Facebook ended the day 3.2 percent higher at $32.

* A California jury ruled that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android mobile platform did not infringe on two of Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL)’s patents, marking an end to the second phase of the trial.

* US media conglomerate Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) has raised its quarterly dividend by 10 percent to 27.5 cents a share, less than the 30 cents a share that some analysts had estimated.

* Teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) reported better than expected first quarter profit and sales, boosted by double-digit same-store-sales growth across its main businesses.

* US specialty jewelry retailer Zale Corporation (NYSE:ZLC) reported a smaller than expected fiscal third quarter loss of $4.5 million, or 14 cents a share, on revenue of $445.2 million, that also topped estimates.

* Freight-railroads operator RailAmerica, Inc. (NYSE:RA) said that it was studying strategic alternatives including a possible sale of the company. Reuters reported that the company has begun preliminary talks with third parties, and has hired Deutsche Bank as its financial adviser.

Hedge Fund News Update

* Oliver Chang, the head of U.S. housing strategy at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), will leave the firm to launch an asset management firm focused on housing, Reuters reported. The move comes at a time when many hedge funds firms are raising money to invest in the “housing turnaround”.

* The first hedge fund from Dallas-based Commerce Street Investment Adviser is set to be launched in June. The Commerce Street Investment Partners III will target institutional investors and will be open to acceleration capital, and the firm is hoping to raise between $250 million and $300 million for the fund.

* John Dyson’s New York-based investment firm Millbrook Capital Management will shut down its activist hedge fund MMI Investments, and will return outside capital by June 30. The fund began investing in 1996 and reached a peak of around $700 million before the financial crisis.

* Dallas-based hedge fund firm Swank Capital, which manages over $2 billion in assets, has opened its Cushing GP Strategies Fund to outside capital. Swank Capital is looking to start a closed-end fund that will invest in energy and industrial sectors.

Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Wednesday, May 23, 2012

 * Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE:ARO) was upgraded to “outperform” from “in-line” at Imperial Capital with a target price of $23.

* Employers Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:EIG) was raised to “market outperform” from “market perform” at JMP Securities with a target price of $20.

* LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. (NASDAQ:LPNT) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Auriga with a target price of $41.

* Oncothyreon Inc. (NASDAQ:ONTY) was raised to “hold” from “sell” at WBB Securities with a target price of $4.

* Republic Bancorp, Inc. KY (NASDAQ:RBCAA) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” at Hilliard Lyons with a target price of $27.

 * America Movil SAB de CV (ADR) (NYSE:AMX) was cut to “neutral” from “overweight” at JPMorgan.

* Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” at Mizuho with a target price of $15.

* NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NYSE:NDAQ) was cut to “hold” from “buy” at Deutsche Bank with a target price of $25.

* Patriot Coal Corporation (NYSE:PCX) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Deutsche Bank.

* Pearson PLC (ADR) (NYSE:PSO) was cut to “neutral” from “buy” at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.