Stock market news

Stocks that are expected to trade actively in U.S. stock markets on Tuesday include: The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND), Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY), American Railcar Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARII), Greenbrier Companies Inc (NYSE:GBX), Nielsen Hldg NV (NYSE:NLSN), Arbitron Inc. (NYSE:ARB), Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO), Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB), The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL), Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI), Vitamin Shoppe Inc (NYSE:VSI) and Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM).

Market Levels

•    US:  Dow Futures: 13210.00 (0.20%), S&P 500 Futures: 1429.50 (0.18%), NASDAQ Futures: 2674.75 (0.48%)
•    Europe: CAC: 3638.87 (0.02%), DAX: 7635.60 (0.40%), FTSE: 5932.85 (0.35%)
•    Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4595.20 (0.48%), China: 2162.46 (0.10%), Hong Kong: 22494.73 (-0.08%), India: 5896.80 (0.66%), Japan: 9923.01 (0.95%).
•    Metals: Gold: 1699.60 (0.08%), Silver: 32.48 (0.64%), Copper: 3.66 (-0.15%)
•    Energy: Crude Oil: 87.84 (0.73%), Natural Gas: 3.39 (0.86%)
•    Commodities: Corn: 7.18 (-0.86%), Soya Bean: 14.71 (-0.15%), Wheat: 8.03 (-0.64%)
•    Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3184 (0.15%), GBP/USD: 1.6208 (0.02%), USD/JPY: 83.8800 (-0.01%)
•    10 year US Treasury: 1.772% (0.002)

Market and Economic News Update

U.S. stock-index futures rise: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a higher open on Tuesday amid hopes of a breakthrough in the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington. On the economic front, the U.S. current account deficit fell to $107.5 billion in the third quarter, the lowest in nearly two years, the Commerce Department said today. Economists were expecting a reading of $103.4 billion.

European markets gain: European markets are up in trade following reports of progress between Democrats and Republicans in “fiscal cliff” negotiations in the U.S. The German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) was trading 0.4 percent higher at 7635.60, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) added 0.4 percent to 5932.85 and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) was trading largely unchanged. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was up 0.3 percent

Asian markets end mostly higher: Asian markets closed higher on Tuesday as Japan’s next Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the country’s central bank to adopt a more aggressive monetary stimulus stance. The NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) rose 1.0 percent to 9,923 points. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HIS) closed down 0.1 percent at 22,494.7, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) edged up 0.1 percent to 2,162.4 points. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index jumped 21.8 points to 4,595.2. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index closed 0.6 percent higher.

Stocks to Watch

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) boosted its quarterly dividend by 10 percent, and said it will buy back up to $2 billion of its shares next year. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) will increase its quarterly dividend to 48.5 cents a share, payable on March 8, to shareholders of record as of February 15. The aerospace and defense giant has benefited from strong demand for its commercial aircrafts, and has provided consistently solid core operating performance. Shares of Chicago-based The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) were inactive in pre-market trading.

Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND)

Packaged foods company Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND) posted first quarter adjusted earnings of 24 cents a share, beating expectations by a penny a share. Revenue came in at $259 million, missing estimates for $274 million. Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND) last month disclosed restated financial results, which showed that it swung to a loss during the first three quarters of the previous financial year, due to significant charges related to a walnut-accounting scandal. Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND) shares have lost nearly 57 percent in 2012.

Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY)

Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) said its board has authorized a new $1.5 billion share repurchase program. Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) expects to complete the buyback program during 2013, and said all purchases will be made on the open market. Separately, the drug maker unveiled a first-quarter dividend of 49 cents per share, payable on March 8, to shareholders as of February 15. Shares of Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) were up 32 cents at $48.66 in after-hours trading.

American Railcar Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARII)

American Railcar Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARII), controlled by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, offered $20 per share in cash for rival railcar maker Greenbrier Companies Inc (NYSE:GBX), valuing the company at about $543 million. Icahn, last month, disclosed a 9.99 percent stake in Oregon-based Greenbrier Companies Inc (NYSE:GBX), making him the company’s largest shareholder. American Railcar Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARII)’s shares closed at $32.22 on the NASDAQ, while Greenbrier Companies Inc (NYSE:GBX)’s closed at $18.97 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

Nielsen Hldg NV (NYSE:NLSN)

Nielsen Hldg NV (NYSE:NLSN) has agreed to buy radio market research firm Arbitron Inc. (NYSE:ARB) for $1.26 billion in cash. The $48-a-share offer represents a 26 percent premium to Arbitron Inc. (NYSE:ARB)’s closing price yesterday. The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies. The acquisition will add about 13 cents to Nielsen Hldg NV (NYSE:NLSN)’s adjusted earnings per share in the year after the deal is completed, the New York-based company said in a statement today. Nielsen Hldg NV (NYSE:NLSN) and Arbitron Inc. (NYSE:ARB), together generated revenue of $6 billion and EBITDA of $1.7 billion in the 12 months ended September 30.

Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO)

Real estate investment trust Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) declared a fourth-quarter dividend of 55 cents a share. The dividend is payable on January 18, 2013 to common stockholders as of December 31, 2012. Analysts at Credit Suisse, yesterday, initiated coverage on shares of Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO), with an “outperform” rating and a $12.50 price target on the stock. Last month, the company REIT reported lower than expected quarterly earnings. Shares of Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) jumped 3 percent.


Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB) has made a per share offer of 35 euros ($46.10) for the remaining stake it does not already own in Belgian cable operator Telenet Group Holding NV (EBR:TNET). Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB), which wants to completely takeover Telenet, currently owns slightly more than 50 percent of the company, and is locked in a dispute over its valuation. The cash offer is being made through Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB)’s subsidiary Binan Investments BV. Class A shares of Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB) were inactive in pre-market trading.

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL)

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL) said its board has approved a $1 billion share buyback program. The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL) will fund the share buyback plan by issuing the same amount in subordinated debt. The buyback will completed by the end of next year and purchases will be made on the open market. The share repurchase is in addition to a recently concluded buyback of $1 billion, The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL) said today in a statement.

Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI)

Oil-field-services company Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI) lowered its fourth-quarter outlook for revenue and margins amid lower-than-expected land drilling activity and continued pressure-pumping price declines. Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI) expects adjusted operating margins of 8.5 percent to 9.5 percent for the quarter in its North American operations, compared to 11.7 percent in the third quarter. Operating margin from its international operations will be similar to the third quarter. The company is likely to release its fourth-quarter numbers on January 23. Shares of Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI) slid 3 percent in pre-market.

Vitamin Shoppe Inc (NYSE:VSI)

Nutritional supplements retailer Vitamin Shoppe Inc (NYSE:VSI) said it will acquire Seattle-based Super Supplements in a deal worth nearly $50 million. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the month. Vitamin Shoppe Inc (NYSE:VSI) CEO Tony Truesdale said in a statement that Super Supplements’ key management team will remain intact. Vitamin Shoppe Inc (NYSE:VSI), which operates more than 560 stores, recently reported third-quarter profit of $16.3 million as sales increased 14 percent from the year-ago period to $239 million.

Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM)

Chicken producer Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM) reported fourth quarter profit of $9.3 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with a year-ago loss of $21.6 million, or 97 cents a share. Sales rose 16 percent to $648.4 million. Analysts were expecting Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM) to earn 32 cents a share on revenue of $636 million. Operating margin stood at 2.4 percent, compared to a negative 5.3 percent last year. For the full year, the company reported earnings of $2.35 a share on sales of $2.39 billion. Shares of Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM) jumped 1.5 percent in early morning trade.

Economic Calendar for Tuesday, December 18, 2012:

07:45 A.M. ET:    ICSC-Goldman Store Sales (Week ending Saturday, December 15)
08:30 A.M. ET:    Current Account (Q3)
08:55 A.M. ET:    Redbook Index (YoY)
08:55 A.M. ET:    Redbook index (MoM) (December 9)
10:00 A.M. ET:    NAHB Housing Market Index (December)
11:30 A.M. ET:    4-Week Bill Auction
01:00 P.M. ET:    5-Year Note Auction
01:15 P.M. ET:    Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard W. Fisher speaks.