Market Levels


  • US:  Dow: 12695.30 (-0.98%), S&P 500: 1338.35 (-1.11%), NASDAQ: 2902.58 (-1.06%)
  • Europe: CAC: 3057.99 (-2.35%), DAX: 6451.97 (-1.98%), FTSE: 5465.52 (-2.01%).
  • Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4297.00 (0.28%), China: 2380.72 (-0.60%), Hong Kong: 19735.04 (-1.16%), India: 4907.80 (-0.43%), Japan: 8973.84 (0.23%).
  • Metals: Gold: 1561.00 (-1.45%), Silver: 28.35 (-1.86%), Copper: 3.55 (-2.58%)
  • Energy: Crude Oil: 94.78 (-1.40%), Natural Gas: 2.43 (-3.11%)
  • Commodities: Corn: 5.83 (0.34%), Soya Bean: 12.94 (-2.01%), Wheat: 5.98 (0.21%)
  • Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2825 (0.75%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6093 (-0.15%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.8550 (-0.09%)
  • 10 year US Treasury: 1.764% (-0.074)


Market and Economy News Update


U.S. markets ends lower: U.S. markets fell on Monday as Greece struggled to form a new government, with investors worried that the nation may eventually be forced to leave the euro zone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) slipped 0.98 percent, to close at 1,2695.35, the lowest level since January. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) erased 1.11 percent, to finish at 1,338.35, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) ended the day 1.06 percent lower, at 2,902.58,


Oil prices tumble: Oil prices tumbled to the lowest level in almost five months amid comments from the Saudi Arabian oil minister that prices should decline further. Crude oil for June delivery fell 1.4 percent, to settle at $94.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for June settlement fell 0.6 percent to $111.57 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.


Company News Update


  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) announced the retirement of Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew, who oversaw the unit responsible for the $2 billion trading loss on Thursday.
  • Online deal site Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) reported first quarter earnings of 2 cents a share on revenue of $559 million that topped Wall Street’s expectations.
  • Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A), the electronics testing and measurement company, reported second quarter earnings excluding one time items of 78 cents a share on $1.73 billion in revenue, that beat the 73 cents a share on $1.71 billion in revenue that analysts were expecting.
  • Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) founder and Chairman Richard Schulze is stepping down after an internal investigation found that he knew former Chief Executive Officer Brian Dunn was having an inappropriate  relationship with a female employee, but did not alert the audit committee.
  • Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP) said it will consider Coty Inc’s recent $10.7 billion takeover bid to buy the company and will respond within a week.
  • General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), the world’s top-selling automaker, is looking at acquiring Detroit-based bank Ally Financial Inc.’s international operations, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • Natural-gas explorer and oil refiner InterOil Corporation (USA) (NYSE:IOC) said it has received a notice from the government of Papua New Guinea to cancel a planned liquefied natural gas project agreement.
  • Houston-based retailer of apparel and accessories, Francesca’s Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:FRAN), fired Chief Financial Officer Gene Morphis for improperly sharing company information through social media.
  • BMC Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:BMC), the maker of software to manage corporate computer network, adopted a shareholder rights plan to help stave off a potential acquisition, after New York hedge fund Elliott Associates LP notified the company that it acquired a stake of more than 5 percent.
  • KiOR Inc (NASDAQ:KIOR), the Texas producer of gasoline and diesel from wood reported a first quarter loss that matched street estimates.


Hedge Fund News Update     

  • Hedge fund manager Phil Falcone’s wireless venture LightSquared Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection after negotiations with lenders to avoid a potential debt default failed.
  • London-based hedge fund Noster Capital, which owns 250,000 shares of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), has sent an open letter to the company’s board, urging them to remove Aubrey K. McClendon, the company’s co-founder and chief executive.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that activist investor Carl Icahn is buying a substantial stake in Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK). Icahn had previously bought into Chesapeake in late 2010, but sold out within a few months.
  • Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) said that it has reached an agreement with activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of the hedge fund firm Third Point that will effectively end Loeb’s proxy fight, by agreeing to install three of the New York-based firm’s nominees to the company’s board.
  • According to data from the Chicago based Hedge Fund Research group, Asia-focused hedge funds have had a strong start to the year, recording gains of 7.4 per cent in the three months ended 31 March, compared to the more than 18 percent in losses seen last year. Total assets increased to $86.7 billion at the end of the first quarter, with the total number of Asia-focused hedge funds jumping to 1,101.
  • Data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), released on Friday, showed that money managers significantly slashed their bullish bets on oil, which was one of the primary reasons behind this year’s biggest drop in prices.
  • Credit Suisse’s Asset Management Division has launched the Credit Suisse Liquid Alternative Fund, a hedge fund-like mutual fund, which will offer access to hedge fund-like returns, with the flexibility of daily liquidity and increased transparency. 
  • Jeremy Charles, the operations director of London-based hedge fund firm Thames River Capital, will step down from his post. Charles will be replaced by Hugh Moir, the head of operations and information technology at the firm.
  • London-based hedge fund firm Insparo Asset Management has hired emerging markets specialist Cian Walsh as a senior portfolio manager.


Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Monday, May 14, 2012


  • Alliant Energy Corporation (NYSE:LNT) was upgraded to “outperform” from “neutral” at Robert W. Baird with a target price of $49.
  • Arch Coal Inc (NYSE:ACI) was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at UBS with a target price of $11.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Standpoint Research with a target price of $43.
  • Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (NYSE:LPX) was raised to “outperform” from “sector perform” at RBC Capital Mkts with a target price of $12.
  • Teradata Corporation (NYSE:TDC) was upgraded to “overweight” from “equal weight” at Barclays with a target price of $85.
  • Virginia Commerce Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:VCBI) was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $9.
  • Calavo Growers, Inc. (NASDAQ:CVGW) was cut to “hold” from “buy” at BB&T Capital Mkts.
  • Dole Food Company, Inc. (NYSE:DOLE) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Auriga.
  • Geokinetics Inc. (NYSEAMEX:GOK) was cut to “neutral” from “accumulate” at Global Hunter Securities.
  • Hudson City Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:HCBK) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” at Compass Point.
  • Macerich Co (NYSE:NYSE) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Stifel Nicolaus. 
  • Tower Group Inc (NASDAQ:TWGP) was cut to “market perform” from “outperform” at FBR Capital with a target price of $24.