• US: Dow: 13021.80 (0.28%), S&P 500: 1415.84 (0.42%), NASDAQ: 3012.03 (0.68%)
• Europe: CAC: 3568.88 (1.50%), DAX: 7400.96 (0.78%), FTSE: 5870.30 (1.14%).
• Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4477.70 (0.68%), China: 1963.49 (-0.51%), Hong Kong: 21922.89 (0.98%), India: 5825.00 (1.70%), Japan: 9400.88 (0.98%).
• Metals: Gold: 1727.20 (0.62%), Silver: 34.35 (1.97%), Copper: 3.59 (1.82%)
• Energy: Crude Oil: 88.07 (1.83%), Natural Gas: 3.85 (-0.77%)
• Commodities: Corn: 7.58 (-0.69%), Soya Bean: 14.48 (0.12%), Wheat: 8.85 (-0.65%)
• Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2976 (-0.20%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6042 (-0.17%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 82.0950 (0.02%)
• 10 year US Treasury: 1.618% (-0.010)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end higher: U.S. markets closed higher in a choppy session on Thursday following a batch of upbeat economic data and positive comments from several lawmakers on the looming “fiscal cliff.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) climbed 36.71 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 13,021.82. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 6.02 points, or 0.43 percent, to end at 1,415.95. The NASDAQComposite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 20.25 points, or 0.68 percent, to finish at 3,012.03.
Oil prices jump: Oil prices rallied on Thursday amid growing Middle East tensions that reinforced fears of supply disruptions. Prices were also boosted by investor optimism that U.S. lawmakers can strike a budget deal to avoid the so called “fiscal cliff.” Crude oil for January delivery added 1.8 percent, to settle at $88.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for January settlement gained 0.9 percent to $110.54 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
• Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) ended 1.5 percent lower after market research firm NPD Group said initial sales of its Windows 8 operating system haven’t been terribly strong.
• Supermarket chain The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) gained 4.8 percent after posting stronger-than-expected third-quarter profits and raising its full-year earnings outlook.
• Luxury goods retailer Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) plunged 6 percent after reporting lower-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue and slashing its full-year profit forecast, citing difficult economic conditions.
• Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) dropped 2.8 percent after analysts at Goldman Sachs lowered their price target on the firm to $16 from $20.
• Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M), Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN), and Kohl’s Corporation (NYSE:KSS), all moved lower after the retailers missed monthly same-store sales expectations.
• Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) has agreed to buy privately held networking firm Cariden Technologies Inc for about $141 million in cash.
• Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) fell 11 percent after the bookstore chain said quarterly loss at its Nook tablet unit increased. The company also said its core bookselling business slowed during the period.
• Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) rose 0.5 percent after company President Marillyn Hewson said an agreement with the Pentagon about a fifth batch of F-35 fighter jets was likely before the end of the year.
• John Malone’s cable group Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) fell 0.5 percent after disclosing it had not tabled a bid to acquire Brazilian broadband specialist GVT from France’s Vivendi SA (EPA:VIV).
• Restaurant chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) slid 5 percent after projecting fiscal second-quarter income of between $1.22 and $1.27 a share, trailing analysts’ predictions of $1.28 a share.
• Data-center technology company Infoblox Inc (NYSE:BLOX) soared 30 percent after reporting core earnings and revenue that beat expectations, and raising its outlook for the year.
• Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), the maker of Marlboro and L&M cigarettes, will increase the prices of all its brands by six-cent per-pack.
• Teen-apparel retailer Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE:ARO) tumbled 5 percent after projecting fourth-quarter earnings per share of 36 cents to 41 cents, compared with the average analyst estimate of 55 cents a share.
• Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX)’s CNN Worldwide has named former NBC CEO Jeff Zucker as its next president.
• Online auction operator Liquidity Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:LQDT) posted fourth quarter earnings excluding items of 40 cents a share, 3 cents above the average analysts’ estimate. Revenue jumped 54 percent to $122.3 million, above expectations of $115 million.
• Drug maker Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is withdrawing its marketing authorization application for European approval of its potential treatment for bone sarcoma ridaforolimus, citing insufficient data.
• Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. (NASDAQ:BECN) fell 0.8 percent after fourth quarter revenue trailed estimates. Adjusted earnings were in line with analysts’ expectations.
• Distribution giant Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE:IM) has agreed to acquire data-storage distributor Promark Technology for an undisclosed amount.
• DVR device provider TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO) closed 6.3 percent higher after posting third quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, blowing past expectations for a loss of 21 cents a share. The company provided current quarter revenue outlook that matched forecasts.
• Furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) tanked 10 percent after reporting second quarter earnings of 12 cents a share on revenue of $322 million that missed Street expectations for 20 cents a share on sales of $325 million.
• Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSEAMEX:UVE) closed 4 percent higher after its board unveiled a special cash dividend of 12 cents a share.
Hedge Fund News Update
• Truck maker Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) has urged its shareholders to ignore Carl Icahn’s plea to accept his $32.50-per-share bid for any and all outstanding shares of the company before the offer expires on Monday, December 3.
• Omega Advisors expects less robust corporate earnings next year, according to a Reuters report.
• Hedge funds fell 0.16 percent month to date as of November 21, compared to a drop of 1.5 percent in the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX), according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch investable hedge fund composite index.
• A federal appeals court in New York yesterday put on hold a New York judge’s order for Argentina to pay $1.3 billion into escrow for holders of its defaulted debt by December 15; a setback for defaulted bondholders like billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp.
• Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates added two emerging markets ETFs to its portfolio in the third quarter.
• Ridley Park Paragon fund is closing down after returns fell below expectations in 2011, founder Julian Barnett told investors in a letter. The fund lost 27 percent last year, whereas the average equities fund fell 8.38 percent during the same period.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Thursday, November 29, 2012
• Apartment Investment & Management Co. (NYSE:AIV) was lifted to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $28.
• AvalonBay Communities, Inc. (NYSE:AVB) was upgraded to “market perform” from “equal underperform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $135.
• CarMax, Inc (NYSE:KMX) was raised to a “buy” rating from a “neutral” rating by analysts at Goldman Sachs with a target price of $42.
• Copart, Inc. (NASDAQ:CPRT) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at BB&T Capital Markets with a target price of $34.
• Camden Property Trust (NYSE:CPT) was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $72.
• D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI) was raised to “neutral” from “sell” by analysts at Compass Point with a target price of $18.
• EOG Resources, Inc. (NYSE:EOG) was lifted to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Macquarie with a target price of $142.
• Expeditors International of Washington (NASDAQ:EXPD) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Stifel Nicolaus.
• Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES) was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” by analysts at Piper Jaffray with a target price of $31.
• Hercules Offshore, Inc. (NASDAQ:HERO) was lifted to “overweight” from “equal weight” by analysts at Stephens with a target price of $6.
• IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI) was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Wells Fargo & Co.
• Mid-Con Energy Partners LP (NASDAQ:MCEP) was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Robert W. Baird with a target price of $24.
• Northstar Realty Finance Corp. (NYSE:NRF) was lifted to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at FBR Capital with a target price of $8.
• Plantronics, Inc. (NYSE:PLT) was upgraded to “overweight” from “neutral” by analysts at JPMorgan Chase with a target price of $41.
• Pentair, Ltd. (NYSE:PNR) was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein with a target price of $58.
• Public Storage (NYSE:PSA) was lifted to “hold” from “underweight” by analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets.
• Research In Motion Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:RIMM) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Goldman Sachs with a target price of $16.
• Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE:ARO) was downgraded to “average” from “above average” by analysts at Caris & Co. with a target price of $18.
• Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) was lowered to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Sterne Agee.
• Colonial Properties Trust Inc (NYSE:CLP) was cut to “underperform” from “market perform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $21.
• Cree, Inc. (NASDAQ:CREE) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Deutsche Bank.
• EZchip Semiconductor Ltd. (NASDAQ:EZCH) was lowered by analysts at Chardan Capital Markets from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating.
• CGI Group Inc. (USA) (NYSE:GIB) was cut to “sector perform” from “outperform” by analysts at RBC Capital Markets.
• Mid America Apartment Communities Inc (NYSE:MAA) was downgraded to “market perform” from “outperform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $65.
• OM Group, Inc. (NYSE:OMG) was lowered by analysts at Northcoast Research from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating.
• Rockwell Collins, Inc. (NYSE:COL) was cut to “perform” from “outperform” by analysts at Oppenheimer with a target price of $58.
• The Timken Company (NYSE:TKR) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Jefferies Group with a target price of $45.