update

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

Post Market Update

Market Levels

* US: Dow: 13564.60 (0.09%), S&P 500: 1459.32 (-0.13%), NASDAQ: 3177.80 (-0.03%)

* Europe: CAC: 3512.69 (-1.17%), DAX: 7347.69 (-0.76%), FTSE: 5868.16 (-0.43%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4394.70 (-0.18%), China: 2059.54 (-0.92%), Hong Kong: 20601.93 (-0.27%), India: 5600.05 (-0.18%), Japan: 9123.77 (-0.39%).

* Metals: Gold: 1771.20 (0.03%), Silver: 34.72 (1.02%), Copper: 3.79 (-0.13%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 95.29 (-1.38%), Natural Gas: 2.77 (-3.21%)

* Commodities: Corn: 7.40 (-1.07%), Soya Bean: 16.40 (-1.74%), Wheat: 8.63 (-1.65%)

* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3047 (0.51%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6244 (0.01%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 78.8150 (0.13%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.808% (-0.033)

Market and Economy News Update

U.S. markets end largely unchanged: U.S. markets ended flat in lackluster trading on Tuesday as last week’s Fed-fueled rally continued to fade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) eked out a gain of 11.54 points, or 0.09 percent, to finish at 13,564.64, after trading in a tight 64-point range. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) slipped 1.87 points, or 0.13 percent, to close at 1,459.32, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) slipped 0.87 points, or 0.03 percent, to end at 3,177.80.

Oil prices fall: Oil prices declined for the second straight session on Tuesday amid news that OPEC’s top producer Saudi Arabia is working to lower oil prices and is producing around 10 million barrels per day. Crude oil for October delivery fell 1.4 percent, to settle at $95.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for November settlement slid 1.9 percent to $111.67 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Stocks in Focus

* Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has raised its quarterly dividend by 15 percent to 23 cents a share from 20 cents a share.

* Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) unveiled it’s redesigned 2013 Fusion in New York’s Times Square. The Fusion has become the automaker’s best-selling car since it went on sale in 2005.

* Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) said that it has officially completed the sale of roughly half of its stake in China’s Alibaba Group, and said it will return most of the $4.3 billion in net proceeds to shareholders.

* Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) said chief financial officer David Viniar will retire at the end of January and will be replaced by Harvey Schwartz.

* Research In Motion Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:RIMM) (TSE:RIM) closed 2.3 percent higher after the BlackBerry maker signed a licensing agreement with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to use one of its file storage systems.

* Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) reported fourth quarter net loss of 15 million pounds ($24.2 million), or 10 pence a share, compared with a net loss of 501,000 pounds in the year-ago period. Revenue for the quarter fell 25 percent to 74.5 million pounds as the English soccer giants finished without a trophy for the first time since 2005. Manchester United forecast full-year revenue of between 350 million pounds to 360 million pounds ($569 million to $585 million) that trailed most analysts’ estimates.

* Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE:NFX) has agreed to sell its remaining Gulf of Mexico assets to W&T Offshore, Inc. (NYSE:WTI) for about $228 million.

* BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP) slid 0.9 percent following news that it shut a Norwegian oil and gas field last week after substantial oil leak.

* Battery maker Energizer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ENR) unveiled an initiative that will cut annual costs by between $175 million to $200 million. The plan also includes reductions in its global workforce.

* Farm retail supplier Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU) is likely to complete its purchase of the majority of Viterra Inc.’s (TSE:VT) Canadian and Australian farm supply stores by the end of this year or early next year, according to a Reuters report.

* Biotechnology company Targacept, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRGT)said its experimental treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, TC-5619, failed in a mid-stage clinical trial. The company also said it will drop development of the drug and slash jobs.

* Nutrition-supplement company Schiff Nutrition International Inc. (NYSE:SHF) closed 17 percent higher after posting stronger-than-expected fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenue, and raising its fiscal 2013 sales growth and gross margin estimates.

* OXiGENE, Inc. (NASDAQ:OXGN) jumped 30 percent after the pharmaceuticals company reached an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a Phase 3 trial of its investigational thyroid-cancer treatment.

* PMFG Inc (NASDAQ:PMFG) soared 11 percent after the company said it was awarded a five-year U.S. Navy contract to provide air inlet moisture separation/filtration systems on the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers.

* F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFIV) rose 4 percent after Topeka Capital analyst Brian White said the company could see market share gains on news that network-gear giant Cisco Systems Inc. will stop developing new ACE load-balancing products.

* American Science & Engineering, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASEI) ended 8 percent higher after winning a $245 million U.S. government contract to provide body scanners used for security at airports.

Hedge Fund News Update

* US hedge fund Mason Capital Management today said that it has been granted permission to launch an expedited appeal of last week’s Supreme Court of British Columbia ruling that blocked it from calling a meeting of the Telus Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TU) (TSE:T)’s shareholders.

* Daniel Bystrom, former head of equity derivatives trading at MF Global Inc. is planning to start the New York-based hedge fund, Hawksfield Capital LLC, by the end of this month.

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will force hedge fund managers to improve disclosure under new guidelines aimed at improving transparency.

* Borut Miklavcic and Gianluca Squassi, former trader at Nomura Holdings, Inc. (ADR) (NYSE:NMR) (TYO:8604), will start the London-based LindenGrove Capital LLP, and are awaiting approval from the U.K. Financial Services Authority.

* Crude oil prices slumped by $4 a barrel late yesterday in the U.S., with some traders speculating that a large hedge fund may be liquidating positions, according to a Reuters report.

* British fund manager Hermes has agreed to sell its flagship Hermes Focus Asset Management to London-based hedge fund RWC Partners.

Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

* Access Midstream Partners LP (NYSE:ACMP) was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” by analysts at Morgan Stanley.

* BMC Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:BMC) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at ThinkEquity.

* General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Buckingham Research.

* Lamar Advertising Co (NASDAQ:LAMR) was raised to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Goldman Sachs with a target price of $42.

* Manhattan Associates, Inc. (NASDAQ:MANH) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at ThinkEquity with a target price of $67.

* OCZ Technology Group Inc (NASDAQ:OCZ) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Craig Hallum with a target price of $7.

* Pall Corporation (NYSE:PLL) was raised to “neutral” from “underperform” by analysts at Bank of America.

* Rubicon Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RBCN) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at RBC Capital Markets.

* TASER International, Inc. (NASDAQ:TASR) was upgraded to “overweight” from “neutral” by analysts at JPMorgan Chase with a target price of $7.50.

* Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) was cut to “market perform” from “outperform” by analysts at Leerink Swann.

* American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ:AGNC) was lowered to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Jefferies Group with a target price of $34.

* Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) was downgraded to “market perform” from “outperform” by analysts at Leerink Swann with a target price of $6.

* DFC Global Corp (NASDAQ:DLLR) was cut to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Jefferies Group.

* Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) was downgraded to “underperform” from “hold” by analysts at Jefferies Group.

* Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (NYSE:LL) was lowered to “underperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Raymond James.

* Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC) was cut by analysts at Credit Suisse from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating with a target price of $65.

* Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPTR) was downgraded to “underperform” from “buy” by analysts at Bank of America.

* PMC-Sierra, Inc. (NASDAQ:PMCS) was lowered to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Miller Tabak.

* Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) was cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Miller Tabak with a target price of $172.

* Reliance Steel & Aluminum (NYSE:RS) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Jefferies Group with a target price of $62.

* Steel Dynamics, Inc. (NASDAQ:STLD) was lowered to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Jefferies Group.

* WMS Industries Inc. (NYSE:WMS) was cut to “sell” from “hold” by analysts at Deutsche Bank.

* Western Refining, Inc. (NYSE:WNR) was downgraded to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Credit Suisse with a target price of $34.