Stock market news

Morning Market Update  

Stocks that are expected to trade actively in U.S. markets on Thursday include: Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ), WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL), Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203), W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE:GWW), Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) (LON:RDSA), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), Diodes Incorporated (NASDAQ:DIOD) and magicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL).

Market Levels

•    US:  Dow Futures: 13057.00 (0.07%), S&P 500 Futures: 1415.50 (0.13%), NASDAQ Futures: 2634.50 (0.23%)
•    Europe: CAC: 3680.52 (0.76%), DAX: 7665.81 (0.39%), FTSE: 5980.09 (0.43%)
•   Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4648.00 (0.28%), China: 2205.90 (-0.60%), Hong Kong: 22619.78 (0.35%), India: 5870.10 (-0.60%), Japan: 10322.98 (0.90%).
•    Metals: Gold: 1656.20 (-0.27%), Silver: 29.98 (-0.18%), Copper: 3.60 (0.00%)
•    Energy: Crude Oil: 91.22 (0.26%), Natural Gas: 3.34 (-1.47%)
•    Commodities: Corn: 6.92 (-1.67%), Soya Bean: 14.26 (-1.15%), Wheat: 7.71 (-2.49%)
•    Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3274 (0.38%), GBP/USD: 1.6158 (0.12%), USD/JPY: 85.9300 (0.35%)
•    10 year US Treasury: 1.767% (0.016)

Market and Economic News Update

U.S. stock-index futures rise: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a modestly higher open on Thursday as President Barack Obama and members of Congress resume budget talks, five days ahead of the deadline. On the economic front, jobless claims dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists were expecting a total of 360,000 new filings.

European markets trading higher: European markets gained in trade today as President Barack Obama cut short his Christmas vacation in Hawaii and returned to Washington to resume budget discussions. The German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) added percent to 7665.81 points, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) rose 0.4 percent to 5980.09 and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) jumped 0.8 percent to 3680.52 points. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was up 0.6 percent

Asian markets end mixed: Asian markets closed mixed on Thursday, with the NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) hitting a 21-month high as a strong currency increased investor risk appetite. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HIS) ended up 0.4 percent at 22,619.8 points, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) shed 0.6 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index finished up 12.8 points to 4,648 on Thursday. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index closed down 0.5 percent.

Stocks to Watch

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC)

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) has had an order compelling it to pay California customers $203 million in restitution for manipulating debit-card transactions to boost overdraft fees vacated by a U.S. appeals court. Consumers had sued the bank alleging its practice of posting debit-card transactions in high-to-low order violated California law. The court said state laws are superseded by federal banking laws, allowing national banks like Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) to determine their own fees. Shares of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) edged higher in pre-market trading. http://www.valuewalk.com/2012/12/wells-fargo-wins-lawsuit-involving-unfair-overdraft-fees/

NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ), WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP)

NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ) and WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) could face potential goodwill write-downs related to underperforming acquisitions like the $8.8 billion impairment charge that saw Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ)’s shares slide more than 25 percent, according to a Bloomberg report. NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ)’s $5.29 billion of goodwill at the end of September, from acquisitions such as the Boston Stock Exchange, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and OMX AB, is more than its market value of $4.15 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP), which is currently trading at about 20 percent below book value, could also face write-downs, after the second-largest U.S. provider of health plans made acquisitions worth more than $11 billion since 2005.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has retained its place as the best online retailer for the eighth consecutive year, according to an online shopping satisfaction survey. The annual ForeSee survey said Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) topped with a score of 88 out of 100, while LLBean.com came in second at 85. J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) had the biggest year-to-year drop, plunging 6 percent to a score of 78. Shares of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) fell 0.5 percent in early morning trade.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL)

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) fell 5 percent in early morning trade following news that a U.S. jury has ordered the chip maker to pay $1.17 billion in a patent infringement case. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a federal jury in Pittsburgh found that Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) infringed on patents for chip technology held by Carnegie Mellon University. The jury found Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL)’s infringement willful, which could increase the compensation by as much as three times.

Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203)

Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203) has settled a class-action lawsuit for $1.1 billion concerning issues of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. Shares of Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203) rose nearly 3 percent in Tokyo following the news. The one-time charge will be reflected in earnings for the quarter ending December 31, Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203) said in a statement. About 16 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles sold in the United States will be eligible for payments and safety updates, according to court filings made public.

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE:GWW)

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE:GWW) will pay $70 million to settle charges that it submitted false claims relating to contracts with two U.S. government agencies. The settlement resolves issues discovered through a U.S. General Services Administration audit that apparently showed W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE:GWW) failed to give accurate or complete information to government purchasers, resulting in the administration paying higher prices, the Justice Department said today in an e-mailed statement. W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE:GWW) maintained that it complied with the disclosure requirements and said the settlement does not contain any admission of wrongdoing.

Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) (LON:RDSA), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY)

Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) (LON:RDSA) has bought three Dubai partials from a unit of Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), amid signs of strengthening demand from refineries for prompt crude. Shell paid $108.20 a barrel for the 25,000 barrels lots for February loading, Bloomberg reported, citing traders with knowledge of the situation. Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) shares were inactive before the open.

Diodes Incorporated (NASDAQ:DIOD)
Chipmaker Diodes Incorporated (NASDAQ:DIOD) has agreed to acquire BCD Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd(ADR) (NASDAQ:BCDS) for about $151 million in cash. The deal is expected to close late in the first quarter of next year, or in early second quarter. Diodes Incorporated (NASDAQ:DIOD) will pay $8 per American depositary share of BCD Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd(ADR) (NASDAQ:BCDS, more than double Wednesday’s closing price of $3.98 per ADS. The deal is expected to expand Diodes Incorporated (NASDAQ:DIOD)’s presence in Asia, where BCD has a strong presence.

magicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL)

magicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL) expects fourth-quarter revenue to exceed analysts’ estimates after the Israeli company that offers voice-over Internet telephone services added a free wireless application. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Borislow said the company should post sales of more than $39 million in the fourth quarter, topping the $38.85 million average analysts’ estimate. Separately, magicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL) said in a filing that its YMax Communications subsidiary has settled all disputes with Verizon Communications Inc. Shares of magicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL) were inactive in the pre-market.

Economic Calendar for Thursday, December 27, 2012:

08:30 A.M. ET:    Initial Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, December 22, 2012)
08:30 A.M. ET:    Continuing Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, December 15)
09:45 A.M. ET:    Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Week ending Sunday, Dec. 23)
10:00 A.M. ET:    New Home Sales (MoM) (November)
10:00 A.M. ET:    New Home Sales Change (MoM) (October)
10:00 A.M. ET:    Consumer Confidence (November)
11:00 A.M. ET:    EIA Petroleum Status Report (Week ending Friday, December 21)
04:30 P.M. ET:    Fed Balance Sheet
04:30 P.M. ET:    Money Supply