Every afternoon (and morning) we provide an update on global market levels, company news, economic news, and hedge fund news. Highlights for October 18th 2012 below:


Market Levels

• US: Dow: 13548.90 (-0.06%), S&P 500: 1457.34 (-0.24%), NASDAQ: 3072.87 (-1.01%)

• Europe: CAC: 3535.18 (0.22%), DAX: 7437.23 (0.57%), FTSE: 5917.05 (0.10%).

• Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4559.40 (0.69%), China: 2131.69 (1.22%), Hong Kong: 21518.71 (0.47%), India: 5718.70 (1.03%), Japan: 8982.86 (1.96%).

• Metals: Gold: 1742.50 (-0.60%), Silver: 32.80 (-1.30%), Copper: 3.73 (-0.40%)

• Energy: Crude Oil: 92.06 (0.07%), Natural Gas: 3.57 (3.14%)

• Commodities: Corn: 7.60 (2.05%), Soya Bean: 15.45 (2.40%), Wheat: 8.68 (1.43%)

• Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3069 (0.02%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD):

1.6042 (-0.01%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.2700 (-0.01%)

• 10 year US Treasury: 1.834% (0.016)

Market and Economy News Update

U.S. markets end lower: U.S. markets rebounded from lows made earlier in the day but still closed lower on Thursday following Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s premature earnings announcement that disappointed investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) erased 8.06 points, or 0.06 percent, to end at 13,548.94. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) declined 3.57 points, or 0.24 percent, to finish at 1,457.34, while the NASDAQComposite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) slid 31.25 points, or 1.01 percent, to close at 3,072.87.
Oil holds fall: Crude prices declined on Thursday amid a rise in U.S. jobless claims. Prices briefly turned higher on news that a pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil to the United States was shut down. Crude oil for November delivery lost 0.1 percent, to settle at $92.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for December settlement fell 0.6 percent to $112.51 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Stocks in Focus

• Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) posted first quarter earnings of 53 cents a share on sales of $16.01 billion that trailed Street estimates for 56 cents a share on revenue of $16.42 billion.

• Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) reported third quarter loss excluding items of 20 cents a share on revenue of $1.27 billion, disappointing analysts who had expected the chipmaker to post a loss of 15 cents a share on revenue of $1.28 billion.

• Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) tanked 8 percent after reporting its earnings much earlier than expected. Third-quarter earnings missed estimates by over a dollar.

• Financial printer R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (NASDAQ:RRD) ended 0.9 percent lower after Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) blamed the company for filing its earnings statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission early “without authorization.”

• SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) reported third quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 48 cents a share, on sales of $1.27 billion that easily beat the average analysts’ estimates of earnings excluding items of 33 cents a share on revenue of $1.22 billion.

• Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) reported third quarter earnings of $2.27 a share, on sales of $701 million that trailed estimates for $2.30 a share on revenue of $702 million. The fast-casual restaurant chain increased its stock buyback by $100 million.

• Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF) said third quarter profit rose to $1.17 billion, or $2.01 per share, from $813 million, or $1.77 per share, in the year ago quarter. Revenue jumped 40 percent to $5.78 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.66 a share on sales of $5.64 billion.

• Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell 1.9 percent after BMO Capital Markets slashed its iPhone current-quarter shipment view by 4 million units to 46 million units.

• Grocery chain Supervalu Inc. (NYSE:SVU) gained 4.9 percent as news that it received numerous interest from third parties for its business overshadowed second-quarter results.

• International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) is in advanced talks to buy Israel-based mobile phone software company Red Bend Software for at least $200 million, according to a Reuters report.

• Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AEGR) hit an 18-month high after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel recommended approval of the company’s rare cholesterol disorder drug lomitapide.

• Car rental company Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HTZ) fell 0.6 percent after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission asked for more time to review its proposed $2.5 billion takeover of smaller rival Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE:DTG).

• MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) jumped 2.3 percent after its Chinese unit won a land grant to develop a luxury resort and casino in Macau’s Cotai district

• Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) will add 13 new brands and expand 10 labels as it implements the first phase of its Millennial generation initiative, which targets customers between 13 and 30 years old.

• Semiconductor company Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ:MLNX) tanked 21 percent after handing in a disappointing fourth-quarter outlook.

• Medical test provider Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (NYSE:LH) closed 1.6 percent lower after the company said it expects 2013 to be a very difficult year.

• Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) lost 3.5 percent after it discontinued a clinical trial of an experimental treatment for kidney disease due to safety concerns.

• Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) gained 1.5 percent after reporting third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

• Dental-products maker Align Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALGN) plunged 20 percent after forecasting weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.

• Progress Software Corporation (NASDAQ:PRGS) has agreed to sell its Sonic, Savvion, Actional and DataXtend product lines to the software investment arm of Trilogy Enterprises for an undisclosed sum, as part of a plan to shed non-core assets.

• Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (NYSE:OEH) soared 23 percent after The Indian Hotels Company Limited (NSE:INDHOTEL) offered to buy the 93.1 percent of the British luxury chain it doesn’t already own.

• Casual dining chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) has questioned the motives of activist shareholder Sardar Biglari and again called on shareholders to reject his nominees to the board.

• Mattress company Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ:SCSS) plunged 6.5 percent despite reporting stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings.

• Building-products company USG Corporation (NYSE:USG) ended 8.5 percent higher after third-quarter loss narrowed amid an improvement in margins and revenue.

• Auto-parts distributor Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC) said third-quarter earnings rose 14 percent, helped by sales growth at most of its main businesses.

• Wesco International, Inc. (NYSE:WCC) surged 14 percent after reporting third-quarter earnings of $1.25 a share that beat the average analysts’ estimate of $1.24 a share.

Hedge Fund News Update

• Total hedge fund assets under management jumped to a record high of $2.2 trillion at the end of third quarter, up from $2 trillion at the end of the 2011, new data released by Hedge Fund Research showed on Thursday.

• London-based BlueCrest Capital Management has designed five new programs for its computer driven BlueMatrix fund, according to a Reuters report.

• Two partners at Pierre-Henri Flamand’s event-driven hedge fund Edoma Partners LP will leave the firm as part of its plan to cut costs due to falling returns and investor redemptions, Bloomberg reported.

• UK hedge fund Portman Square Capital is eager to hire ousted Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) CEO Vikram Pandit, according to a report in The New York Post. Portman Square founder Sutesh Sharma was a former money manager at Pandit’s now defunct Old Lane hedge fund.

• Telus Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TU) (TSE:T) shareholders voted strongly in favor of the company’s share-conversion plan on Wednesday, defeating Mason Capital Management LLC’s attempt to get a premium for voting stockholders.

Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Thursday,

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