Post Market News
Stocks that were in focus in U.S. trading on Wednesday include: Markel Corporation (NYSE:MKL), Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:ALTE), Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA), Oncothyreon Inc (USA) (NASDAQ:ONTY), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN), Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL), D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI), Actuant Corporation (NYSE:ATU), Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO), Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC), Strum, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR), Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), Metlife Inc (NYSE:MET), Idera Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IDRA), Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V. (NYSE:CBI), The Shaw Group Inc. (NYSE:SHAW) and Symmetricom, Inc. (NASDAQ:SYMM).
• US: Dow: 13252.00 (-0.74%), S&P 500: 1435.81 (-0.76%), NASDAQ: 3044.36 (-0.33%)
• Europe: CAC: 3664.59 (0.44%), DAX: 7668.50 (0.19%), FTSE: 5961.59 (0.43%)
• Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4617.80 (0.49%), China: 2162.24 (-0.01%), Hong Kong: 22623.37 (0.57%), India: 5929.60 (0.56%), Japan: 10160.40 (2.34%).
• Metals: Gold: 1667.70 (-0.18%), Silver: 31.12 (-1.75%), Copper: 3.61 (-1.31%)
• Energy: Crude Oil: 89.51 (1.80%), Natural Gas: 3.44 (3.30%)
• Commodities: Corn: 7.03 (-2.36%), Soya Bean: 14.31 (-2.02%), Wheat: 8.05 (-0.68%)
• Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3243 (-0.12%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6252 (-0.02%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 84.3950 (0.14%)
• 10 year US Treasury: 1.798% (-0.019)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end lower: U.S. markets finished lower on Wednesday as negotiations to avoid deep spending cuts and tax hikes turned sour. House Speaker John Boehner said the House of Representatives will pass a budget proposal that President Obama has already threatened to veto. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) fell 98.99 points, or 0.74 percent, to close at 13,251.97 and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) dropped 10.98 points, or 0.76 percent, to finish at 1,435.81, while the NASDAQComposite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) declined 10.17 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 3,044.36.
Oil prices rally: Oil prices gained for the fourth consecutive session on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that crude supplies fell by 1 million barrels for the week ended December 14, compared to analysts’ expectations for a decline of 2.3 million barrels. Crude oil for January delivery jumped 0.8 percent, to settle at $89.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for January settlement added 1.2 percent to $110.13 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
Specialty insurer Markel Corporation (NYSE:MKL) has agreed to buy Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:ALTE) for about $3.1 billion in cash and stock to diversify into reinsurance. Investors in Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:ALTE) will receive 0.043 Markel Corporation (NYSE:MKL) share and $10 in cash for each share they own, the companies said today in a statement. The deal is expected to close in the first half of next year. Shares of Markel Corporation (NYSE:MKL) fell 10 percent to $436.24, while Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:ALTE) surged 22 percent to $28.18. Further reading.
Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA)
Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) fell 3 percent as Moody’s Investors Service placed the country’s largest aluminum producer under review for a possible downgrade. Moody’s placed Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA)’s Baa3 senior unsecured rating under review for downgrade, the ratings company said in a statement. Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) had slashed its global aluminum consumption forecast in October due to a slowdown in demand from China, the world’s largest consumer of the metal.
Oncothyreon Inc (USA) (NASDAQ:ONTY)
Oncothyreon Inc (USA) (NASDAQ:ONTY) plunged in trade after its lung cancer drug missed its endpoint in a clinical study. Oncothyreon Inc (USA) (NASDAQ:ONTY) said a late-stage trial of its experimental lung cancer vaccine Stimuvax, did not meet its goal of improving overall survival. Oncothyreon Inc (USA) (NASDAQ:ONTY) had licensed the experimental drug to Merck Serono, a division of Germany's Merck KGaA (ETR:MRK) (FRA:MRK), which conducted the study.
Shares of PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN), Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL) and D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI), all fell in trade today after data showed housing starts were weaker-than-expected in November.
Actuant Corporation (NYSE:ATU)
Actuant Corporation (NYSE:ATU) reported first quarter earnings per share of 49 cents, down from 50 cents in the year-ago period. Net sales came in at $377.25 million compared to $392.80 million a year earlier. Analysts were expecting the industrial products and systems maker to earn 50 cents a share on sales of $396.37 million. For the second quarter, Actuant Corporation (NYSE:ATU) expects earnings per share in the range of 34 cents to 38 cents and sales of $360 million to $370 million, much lower than what analysts’ were projecting. Shares of Actuant Corporation (NYSE:ATU) tumbled 7.6 percent.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO)
Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO) jumped 2.7 percent after the New York-based company said that Chief Executive Lisa Gersh will step down after a transition period. Before being named CEO in July, Gersh had been president and chief operating officer of the company since July 2011. Additionally, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO) said fourth-quarter merchandising revenue is expected to be 15 percent higher compared with a year ago. More information here.
Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC)
Shares of firearm manufacturers bounced on Wednesday after President Obama announced the