* US: Dow Futures: 13570.00 (0.41%), S&P 500 Futures: 1459.10 (0.36%), NASDAQ Futures: 2865.50 (0.53%)
* Europe: CAC: 3527.04 (0.49%), DAX: 7463.15 (0.99%), FTSE: 5850.49 (-0.07%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4408.30 (0.25%), China: 2026.69 (0.09%), Hong Kong: 20734.94 (0.69%), India: 5691.15 (2.46%), Japan: 9110.00 (0.25%).
* Metals: Gold: 1783.50 (0.75%), Silver: 35.03 (1.00%), Copper: 3.79 (0.90%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 93.68 (1.36%), Natural Gas: 2.83 (1.07%)
* Commodities: Corn: 7.48 (-1.35%), Soya Bean: 16.21 (-3.03%), Wheat: 8.89 (-0.06%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3028 (0.46%), GBP/USD: 1.6284 (0.43%), USD/JPY: 78.2100 (-0.04%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.787% (0.021)
Financial and Economic News Update
U.S. stock-index futures gain: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a higher open on Friday amid investor optimism that the Spanish government has started working with European Union on a potential bailout. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ were all trading close to half a percent higher.
European markets trading mostly higher: European markets are up in trade today with the German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) trading 1 percent higher at 7463.15, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) was largely unchanged at 5850.49 and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) gained 0.5 percent to 3527.04. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was trading 0.9 percent higher.
Asian markets end higher: Asian markets closed higher on Friday with Japan’s NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) ending 0.3 percent higher at 9110.00. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HIS) gained 0.7 percent, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) closed up 0.1 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index added 0.3 percent to 4408.30. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index was the best performer in the region and ended the day close to two and a half percent higher.
Company News Update
* Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is up close to a percent after the new iPhone 5 hit stores around the globe on Friday.
* McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) raised its quarterly dividend by 10 percent to 77 cents per share from 70 cents per share, payable on December 17 to shareholders of record December 3.
* KB Home (NYSE:KBH) reported third quarter profit of $3.26 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with a loss of $9.65 million, or 13 cents, a year earlier. Revenue increased 16 percent to $424.5 million. Analysts were expecting a loss of 16 cents a share on revenue of $430 million.
* Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) reported first quarter profit of $110.8 million, or 85 cents a share, up from $106.6 million, or 78 cents, in the year-ago period. Sales increased 4.8 percent to $2.03 billion. Analysts had projected earnings of 84 cents a share on revenue of $2.03 billion.
* Blackberry maker Research In Motion (USA) (NASDAQ:RIMM) slumped 1 percent in pre-market trading amid reports that some customers in Europe suffered service problems.
* Vivus, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) said it expects the European Medicines Agency committee to rule against its application for approval of its weight-loss drug Qsiva.
* Oil drilling contractor Transocean LTD (NYSE:RIG) rose 1.5 percent in early morning trade after Reuters reported that the company is trying to overturn an injunction to stop its operations in Brazil.
* Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new use for its Prolia injection as a treatment to increase bone mass in men with osteoporosis.
* Insurance company Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (NYSE:MMC) said chief executive Brian Duperreault will retire at the end of the year, and will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Daniel Glaser.
* Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) is up more than a percent in early morning trade after Citigroup upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral.”
* Brokerage firms, Charles Schwab Corp (NYSE:SCHW) and E Trade Financial Corporataion (NASDAQ:ETFC) were downgraded to “underweight” from “equal weight” by analysts at Evercore Partners.
* Tobacco producer Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Citigroup.
* German shoe maker adidas AG (ETR:ADS) (FRA:ADS) confirmed its full year and long-term financial targets, but slashed its 2015 sales target for its Reebok brand to 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion).
* Xstrata PLC (LON:XTA) slid 2 percent after the Financial Times reported that the company’s board will express its opinion on the proposed all share merger with Glencore International Plc (LON:GLEN) later in the day.
* European Union regulators have approved Universal Music Group’s $1.9 billion takeover of the recorded music unit of British music company EMI Group Ltd. after the Vivendi SA (EPA:VIV) owned company promised to sell about a third of EMI assets.
* Technip (EPA:TEC) gained 1.6 percent in Paris after it was awarded a contract by Statoil ASA(ADR) (NYSE:STO) for the fabrication, installation and tie-ins of flowlines for the Gullfaks field in Norway.
* Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) added 1.4 percent after Barclays Plc reiterated its buy rating on the stock and raised its price target to 200 pence from 195 pence.
* National Grid plc (ADR) (NYSE:NGG) (LON:NG) fell 1 percent in London trading after analysts at J.P. Morgan Cazenove downgraded the stock to “underweight” from “neutral.”
* US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is planning to open its first retail outlets in India within the next 12 to 18 months, after the government opened the vast retail sector to foreign chains, the company’s president and chief executive for Asia, Scott Price, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
* Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) (TYO:7267) hopes to nearly double its global car sales to at least 6 million vehicles in four years, chief executive officer Takanobu Ito said on Friday.
* Embattled Japanese TV maker Sharp Corporation (TYO:6753) has denied media reports that it is in talks with U.S. chipmaker Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) for a capital tie-up. Japan’s Mainichi newspaper had reported on Friday that Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) was in talks with Sharp to invest around 30 billion yen ($383 million).
* Li & Fung Limited (HKG:0494) fell the most in more than a month in Hong Kong trading after Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) terminated an earlier option to buy out Li & Fung’s wholly owned sourcing agent.
* Japan Airlines Co Ltd (TYO:9201) closed below its initial offer price on Friday after the company cancelled flights to China amid the growing anti-Japan protests in the country.
* Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) slid 3 percent after it said that production at its Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea has been temporarily reduced following a problem with the electrical system in the main oxygen plant at the mine.
* Japan Tobacco Inc (TYO:2914) gained 2.9 percent after its pharmaceutical unit produced positive results in a phase 3 study of its treatment for dialysis patients.
* Australian grain handler GrainCorp Limited (ASX:GNC) ended 1.2 percent higher after an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised buying the shares.
Economic Calendar for Friday, September 21, 2012:
10:00 A.M. ET: American Petroleum Institute Monthly Report
12:40 P.M. ET: Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank Pres. Dennis Lockhart speaks.