Stock market news

Market Levels

•    US:  Dow Futures: 13120.00 (0.25%), S&P 500 Futures: 1413.50 (0.31%), NASDAQ Futures: 2630.75 (0.29%)
•    Europe: CAC: 3626.64 (-0.46%), DAX: 7586.19 (-0.14%), FTSE: 5889.53 (-0.55%).
•    Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4573.40 (-0.21%), China: 2160.34 (0.45%), Hong Kong: 22513.61 (-0.41%), India: 5857.90 (-0.37%), Japan: 9828.88 (0.93%).
•    Metals: Gold: 1697.90 (0.05%), Silver: 32.42 (0.37%), Copper: 3.66 (-0.54%)
•    Energy: Crude Oil: 86.98 (0.29%), Natural Gas: 3.37 (1.60%)
•    Commodities: Corn: 7.30 (1.39%), Soya Bean: 14.98 (1.21%), Wheat: 8.15 (0.71%)
•    Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3161 (-0.02%), GBP/USD: 1.6204 (0.19%), USD/JPY: 83.7900 (0.32%)
•    10 year US Treasury: 1.714% (0.013)

Market and Economic News Update

U.S. stock-index futures rise: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a higher open on Monday. On the economic front, a gauge of manufacturing in the New York state fell to minus 8.1 in December, the fifth-straight down month, according to the New York Federal Reserve. Economists were expecting a reading of minus 1.0.

European markets fall: European markets are down in trade amid concerns about the ongoing “fiscal cliff” negotiations in the U.S. The German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) was trading 0.1 percent lower at 7586.19, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) shed 0.6 percent to 5889.53 and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) gave up 0.5 percent to 3626.64. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was down 0.3 percent

Asian markets end mixed: Asian markets closed mixed on Monday, but Japanese equities jumped to an eight-month high after the conservative Liberal Democratic Party won Sunday’s election by a landslide. The NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) 91.32 points to 9,828.88, the highest closing level since April 3. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HIS) closed down 0.4 percent at 22,513.6, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) climbed 0.5 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index lost 9.7 points to 4,573.4. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index ended down 0.4 percent.

Stocks to Watch

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) are up in early morning trade after Barron’s said the stock will gain as much as 20 percent next year from a rebound in earnings. The article said that Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) may deliver mid single-digit revenue growth and high single-digit profit growth amid improving performance in all its three business divisions. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has been plagued by problems in recent times which saw Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) sell nearly all of its investment in the company. The healthcare giant had to book a $2.9 billion charge related to the recall of artificial hips and had to face persistent factory problems in its consumer division. Analysts have accused the management of being overly conservative. Shares of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) are up 8 percent year-to-date, trailing some of its larger peers.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO)

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) has hired Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) to find a buyer for its Linksys home network router business, Bloomberg reported on Monday. Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is planning to sell Linksys as part of its strategy to exit consumer businesses and focus on its software and technology services businesses. Last year, Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) shut-down its Flip video-camera unit as part of this strategy. According to the report, Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is likely to get less than the $500 million it paid to acquire Linksys in 2003. The business could attract TV set makers seeking a recognized brand and technology, Bloomberg reported, citing “people with knowledge of the situation.” Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) shares are up 0.5 percent in pre-market trading.


Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB) will buy back $1 billion in stock during 2013 as part of a plan to boost shareholder returns. The broadband and cable operator said the new repurchase authorization will be applicable to class A and C common stock, with buybacks to be made from time to time in the open market or via privately negotiated transactions. Since 2005, Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB) has aggressively bought back its stock, and has repurchased over $9 billion of equity. The company has bought about $925 million in shares since the start of the current year. Last month, Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB) reported lower than expected third quarter loss helped by a rise in revenue.  Shares of Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA) (NASDAQ:LBTYB) were inactive in pre-market.

Laclede Group Inc (NYSE:LG)

Laclede Group Inc (NYSE:LG) will acquire gas utilities, Missouri Gas Energy and New England Gas Co. from Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (NYSE:ETE) in a deal valued at about $1 billion. The transaction will see St. Louis-based Laclede Group Inc (NYSE:LG) double its customer base to 1.2 million. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013, and Laclede Group Inc (NYSE:LG) expects earnings to get a boost a year after that. The utilities had combined revenue of about $517 million for the twelve months ended September 30. Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (NYSE:ETE) said the sale was part of its efforts to offload non-core assets. Laclede Group Inc (NYSE:LG) were inactive in early trade.

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM)

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) has named co-founder Tom Leighton as its new chief executive officer. Leighton will takeover from long-time CEO Paul Sagan on January 2013. Sagan and Leighton will both keep their seats on the board. Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) has also promoted Rick McConnell to president of products and development and Robert Hughes to president of worldwide operations. McConnell and Hughes will report to Leighton. Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM), which has more than 2,800 employees worldwide, and caters to tech giants like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), has seen its shares rise more than 20 percent so far this year.

Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP (NYSE:RNF)

Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP (NYSE:RNF) has slashed its full-year earnings guidance citing unscheduled maintenance at its production facilities and cost related to the recent acquisition of fertilizer producer Agrifos LLC. Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP (NYSE:RNF) now expects 2012 earnings of $99.4 million, down from its earlier forecast of $116.1 million. Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP (NYSE:RNF) also lowered its outlook for cash available for distribution for 2012 to about $3.27 per unit from its November estimate of more than $3.30 per unit. Shares of Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP (NYSE:RNF) have more than doubled since the start of the year, and the company last month reported better than expected third-quarter profit, helped by a 56 percent jump in revenue.

Economic Calendar for Monday, December 17, 2012:

08:30 A.M. ET:    NY Empire State Manufacturing Index (December)
09:00 A.M. ET:    Net Long-Term TIC Flows (October)
09:00 A.M. ET:    Total Net TIC Flows (October)
11:30 A.M. ET:    3-Month Bill Auction
11:30 A.M. ET:    6-Month Bill Auction
12:30 P.M. ET:    Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker speaks.
01:00 P.M. ET:    2-Year Note Auction