Every afternoon (and morning) we provide an update on global market levels, company news, economic news, and hedge fund news. Highlights for August 15th 2012 below:



Post Market Update

Market Levels

 * US: Dow: 13164.80 (-0.06%), S&P 500: 1405.53 (0.11%), NASDAQ: 3030.93 (0.46%)

* Europe: CAC: 3443.30 (-0.20%), DAX: 6939.46 (-0.50%), FTSE: 5839.22 (-0.44%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4281.20 (-0.26%), China: 2118.94 (-1.11%), Hong Kong: 20052.29 (-1.19%), India: 5380.35 (0.00%), Japan: 8925.04 (-0.05%).

* Metals: Gold: 1606.60 (0.26%), Silver: 27.81 (0.18%), Copper: 3.35 (-0.28%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 94.33 (0.96%), Natural Gas: 2.75 (-3.03%)

* Commodities: Corn: 8.04 (1.90%), Soya Bean: 16.34 (2.28%), Wheat: 8.66 (0.93%)

* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2289 (0.25%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5683 (-0.04%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 78.9550 (0.28%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.815% (0.078)

Market and Economy News Update

U.S. markets end flat: U.S. markets closed largely unchanged in another lackluster trading session on Wednesday as investors digested a slew of mixed economic reports, amid hopes that the Fed might take further stimulus action soon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) slipped 7.36 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 13,164.78. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) eked out a gain of 1.60 points, or 0.11 percent, to end at 1,405.53, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) edged up 13.95 points, or 0.46 percent, to finish at 3,030.93.

Oil prices end higher: Oil prices rallied to a three month high on Wednesday after a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles, and expectations of lower output from the North Sea. U.S. crude oil inventories declined 3.7 million barrels for the week ending August 10, the third consecutive week of drawdowns, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said today. Crude oil for September delivery jumped 1 percent, to settle at $94.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for September settlement rose 2.1 percent to $116.40 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Stocks in Focus

* Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 47 cents a share that beat analysts’ estimates of earnings of 45 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter came in at $11.7 billion, also topping expectations for $11.62 billion. The tech bellwether also raised its dividend to 14 cents a share from 8 cents a share.

* Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has secured one out of the four board seats he was targeting at drug maker Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX). The stock ended 0.3 percent lower.

* Limited Brands, Inc. (NYSE:LTD) reported second quarter earnings excluding one time items of 50 cents a share, 2 cents above the average analysts’ estimate. Revenue stood at $2.4 billion that beat estimates of $2.38 billion. The specialty retailer provided a weaker than expected outlook for current-quarter.

* Data-storage technology company NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP) reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 42 cents a share, 4 cents above the consensus estimate. Revenue declined to $1.45 billion from $1.49 billion a year ago, trailing estimates of $1.46 billion. The company provided a better than expected current quarter guidance.

* Chipmaker Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT) said third-quarter net income fell to $218 million or 17 cents a share, from $476 million, or 36 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue fell 16 percent to $2.34 billion. Analysts were expecting a profit of 21 cents a share and sales of $2.32 billion. The world’s largest producer of chip-making equipment provided a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings guidance.

* U.S. retailers including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) have teamed up to jointly develop a mobile payment network that will allow customers to pay for their purchases with their mobile phones.

* Health insurer WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) was ranked last among the six largest for-profit insurers, in an industry survey conducted by communications company ReviveHealth.

* Pet supply retailer PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) reported second quarter earnings of 71 cents per share, topping analysts’ expectations of 66 cents. Revenue increased 9 percent to $1.62 billion, in line with estimates. The company raised its full-year earnings outlook.

* Technology company Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A)posted third quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 79 cents a share, on revenue of $1.72 billion that missed the average analysts’ estimate of earnings excluding items of 83 cents a share on revenue of $1.79 billion.

* John Stephens, the Chief Financial Officer of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) reiterated the company’s forecast for full-year capital spending.

* Satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) is going ahead with a plan to launch a nationwide broadband-Internet service, via sister company, Echostar Corporation (NASDAQ:SATS), Bloomberg reported.

* Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE:WPI) has filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, challenging the regulator’s delay in approving a generic version of a big-selling diabetes drug, Actos.

* Payment processor Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) has agreed to acquire payment technology company Accelerated Payment Technologies from Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners for $413 million in cash.

* Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc (NYSEAMEX:IMH) soared 87 percent after reporting a more than 11-fold jump in second-quarter net income, with sales of mortgage loans increasing 33 percent.

* Apparel retailer Citi Trends, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTRN) plunged 15 percent after posting weaker-than-expected second-quarter results. Net loss for the quarter stood at 54 cents per share, compared to the loss of 69 per share last year. Analysts were expecting a loss of 44 cents a share.

* Cosmetics and skin care company Physicians Formula Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FACE) has agreed to be taken private by Swander Pace Capital for $4.25 per share in cash, or approximately $65 million.

* Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ) ended percent lower after reporting a wider than expected second quarter loss of $25.5 million, or 59 cents a share. Revenue declined 28 percent to $348.2 million, also trailing estimates of $393.9 million.

* Chicago-based luxury hotel group Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE:BEE) will buy the well-known New York hotel Jumeirah Essex House for about $375 million, Reuters reported.

Hedge Fund News Update

* George Soros’ Soros Fund Management LLC acquired new stakes in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) during the second quarter, boosted its stake in General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), and dissolved its stakes in J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), according to an SEC filing.

* Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors, L.P. acquired new positions in Gaylord Entertainment Company (NYSE:GET), Express Scripts Holding Company (NASDAQ:ESRX) and Ingersoll-Rand PLC (NYSE:IR), during the second quarter, and offloaded his stakes in United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD), according to its latest 13Ffiling.

* Paulson & Co. has acquired new stakes in Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:CVC) and Hillshire Brands Co (NYSE:HSH) while selling its positions in Medco Health Solutions Inc. (NYSE:MHS) and MetLife Inc (NYSE:MET).

* Bridgewater Associates, the

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