Wednesday Post Market, Economic, Hedge Fund and Company NewsEvery afternoon we provides an update on global market levels, economic news, and hedge fund news.

Market Levels

 * US: Dow: 13268.60 (-0.08%), S&P 500: 1402.31 (-0.25%), NASDAQ: 3059.85 (0.31%)

* Europe: CAC: 3226.36 (0.42%), DAX: 6710.77 (-0.75%), FTSE: 5758.11 (-0.94%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4435.90 (0.14%), China: 2438.44 (1.73%), Hong Kong: 21309.08 (1.01%), India: 5239.15 (-0.17%), Japan: 9380.25 (0.31%).

* Metals: Gold: 1654.00 (-0.51%), Silver: 30.64 (-0.92%), Copper: 3.79 (-1.47%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 105.33 (-0.78%), Natural Gas: 2.25 (-4.98%)

* Commodities: Corn: 6.11 (-2.78%), Soya Bean: 13.68 (-1.74%), Wheat: 6.14 (-4.43%)

* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3157 (0.59%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6198 (0.12%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 80.1350 (0.06%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.928% (-0.016)

 Market and Economy News Update

 U.S. markets end mixed: Markets ended mixed on Wednesday as data showed companies added fewer than expected jobs and euro zone unemployment jumped to a 15-year high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) slipped 0.08 percent to close at 13,268.57. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) lost 0.25 percent, to finish at 1,402.31, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) gained 0.31 percent, to end at 3,059.85.

Oil prices fall: Oil prices fell after U.S. crude inventories surged to their highest level in more than 21 years. Crude oil for May delivery fell 0.78 percent to $105.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for June settlement declined 1.09 percent to end the session at $118.35 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Company News Update

 * Visa Inc (NYSE:V), the world’s largest credit and debit-card network, posted fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street’s expectations. Net income stood at $1.29 billion, or $1.91 a share, and revenue increased 15 percent to $2.58 billion.

* Prudential Financial Inc (NYSE:PRU), the second- biggest U.S. life insurer, reported first quarter operating profit of $1.56 a share, below the average estimate of $1.72 a share.

* The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL), the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, reported first quarter net income and revenue that was above Wall Street’s expectations.

* Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), the largest U.S. home lender, controlled 33.9 percent of the U.S. mortgage market in the three months ended March, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.

* Europe’s largest drug maker, Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) will buy New York-based maker of generic dermatology products, Fougera Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $1.53 billion.

* Navigation device maker Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN) reported first quarter profit that beat estimates, amid strong growth in all business segments.

* Teen-apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) raised its first-quarter earnings guidance because of stronger than expected sales and fewer promotions this spring.

* Con Way Inc (NYSE:CNW), the U.S. trucking company, reported first quarter earnings excluding some items of 45 cents a share that easily beat the 34 cents a share that analysts were expecting.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Protalix BioTherapeutics Inc. (NYSEAMEX:PLX) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s experimental biotech drug for the treatment of Gaucher disease, a rare genetic disorder.

* R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (NASDAQ:RRD), the largest North American printer reported posted first quarter adjusted earnings per share of 44 cents, topping the 36 cents a share that analysts’ were expecting.

Hedge Fund News Update

* Hedge fund manager Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (NYSE:OZM) reported first quarter earnings that met Wall Street analysts’ estimates. New York-based Och-Ziff said assets under management climbed to $29.8 billion by May 1, up from $28.8 billion on Dec. 31, 2011.

* William Lee, the former head of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Asia-Pacific equity derivatives group, will launch his own hedge fund in the fourth quarter with a $2 billion capacity.

* Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management recently offloaded its entire stake in Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc (NYSE:FBHS) and Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO).

* According to media reports, legendary natural gas trader and hedge fund manager John Arnold will close his flagship Centaurus fund.

* A survey of 400 hedge fund managers by accounting firm Rothstein Kass has revealed that roughly 48 percent of those surveyed anticipate a difficult year ahead for the sector; with close to 40 percent saying that the U.S. could enter a double-dip recession.

* Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (USA) (NYSE:CP) today indicated that it is ready to negotiate a compromise with activist investor Bill Ackman, who is waging a proxy fight to oust chief executive officer, Fred Green.

* Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) has appointed Paul Baron, Deutsche Bank’s head of North American hedge fund sales trading, as co-head of its equity-derivatives sales team for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

* Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (NYSE:AMG), which has stakes in various hedge-fund groups and other asset managers, said first-quarter profit fell 4.4 percent to $37.4 million, or 71 cents a share, from $39.1 million, or 74 cents a share, a year earlier. The Boston company however continued to report net inflows from clients.

Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Wednesday, May 2, 2012

 * Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ:ATRO) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” at Dougherty & Company with a target price of $41.

* Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc (NYSE:FBHS) was raised to “outperform” from “sector perform” at RBC Capital Mkts with a target price of $28.

* Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $17.

* Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (NYSE:VAR) was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” at Barrington Research.

* Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE:WPZ) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $62.

 * AXIS Capital Holding Limited (NYSE:AXS) was downgraded from “buy” to “hold” at Deutsche Bank with a target price of $36.

* Collective Brands Inc. (NYSE:PSS) was cut from “buy” to “hold” at Auriga.

* Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:ENDP) was downgraded from “buy” to “hold” at Cantor Fitzgerald with a target price of $39…

* Protalix BioTherapeutics Inc. (NYSEAMEX:PLX) was cut from “buy” to “hold” at Canaccord Genuity with a target price of $8.

* Ubiquiti Networks Inc (NASDAQ:UBNT) was downgraded from “buy” to “hold” at Wunderlich with a target price of $35.