Mid-Day Market Action
- US: Dow: 12167.76 (0.56%), S&P 500: 1254.26 (0.85%), NASDAQ: 2599.92 (0.85%)
- Europe: CAC: 3071.80 (1.35%), DAX: 5852.18 (1.04%), FTSE: 5456.97 (1.23%).
- Asia: Australia: 4090.80 (-1.18%), China: 2186.30 (-0.22%), Hong Kong: 18378.23 (-0.21%), India: 4733.85 (0.87%), Japan: 8395.86 (-0.77%), Korea: 1847.49 (-0.05%), Singapore: 2664.80 (-0.32%),
- Metals: Gold: 1608.10 (-0.34%), Silver: 29.08 (-0.56%), Copper: 3.42 (0.72%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 99.72 (1.06%), Natural Gas: 3.13 (-0.73%)
- Agriculture: Corn: 6.22 (0.89%), Soya Bean: 11.65 (0.95%), Wheat: 6.25 (1.26%).
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3049 (0.010%), GBP/USD: 1.5670 (-0.038%), USD/JPY: 78.155 (0.120%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 1.963% (-0.003)
Market News Update
Jobs data boosts US markets: Wall Street started the day in the green after fresh data suggesting the labor market is recovering helped to offset a disappointing reading on U.S. third-quarter economic expansion. Weekly jobless claims fell 4,000 to 364,000 last week, better than the 375,000 economists expected. Claims are now at the lowest level since mid-April 2008.
US Economic growth lower in third quarter: U.S. economic growth was slower than previously estimated in the third quarter on a sharp drop in healthcare spending, but stronger business investment and a fall in inventories pointed to a pickup in output in the current period. Gross domestic product grew at a 1.8% annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, down from the previously estimated 2 percent. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/u-s-economy-expands-less-than-estimated.html
Oil rises on Iran, Iraq worries: Oil rose on Thursday, with U.S. crude nearing the $100 a barrel level, as violence in Iraq and news of upcoming Iranian navy exercises raised fears of potential supply disruptions. Oil also received a boost from separate reports showing jobless claims fell last week in the United States, while consumer sentiment rose more than expected in December, offsetting news that third-quarter economic growth was pegged lower than the previous estimate. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577114411232839088.html?mod=WSJ_Markets_LEFTTopStories
Gold slips: Gold extended losses today, as the dollar rose to session highs against the euro, with concerns over the depth of the euro zone crisis pressuring the single currency, and as traders remained reluctant to add to long positions ahead of year-end. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-21/gold-futures-decline-from-one-week-high-as-dollar-advances-against-euro.html
Fitch warns against rising US debt: Fitch Ratings warned again that the United States’ rising debt burden was not consistent with maintaining the country’s top AAA credit rating, but said there would likely be no decision on whether to cut the rating before 2013. Fitch Ratings on Wednesday warned again that the United States’ rising debt burden was not consistent with maintaining the country’s top AAA credit rating, but said there would likely be no decision on whether to cut the rating before 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/21/us-usa-fitch-idUSTRE7BK1V720111221
Company News Update
- Bank of America Corp. (BAC) will pay a record $335 million to compensate Countrywide Financial Corp. borrowers who were charged more for home loans based on race and national origin. Countrywide, acquired by Bank of America in 2008, assessed higher fees and interest rates to more than 200,000 black and Hispanic borrowers, the U.S. Department of Justice said yesterday in a statement.
- Shares of Mountain View, California based, Vivus (VVUS) tumbled more than 16 percent a day after the drug developer released data linking an ingredient in a weight loss treatment it is developing to an increased risk of birth defects.
- Vulcan Materials (VMC) rejected Martin Marietta Materials’ (MLM) $5 billion takeover bid, and said the offer undervalued the company and would not increase shareholder value in the future.
- Airbus is on course to end 2011 with well over 1,600 orders, pushing Boeing (BA) to the lowest market share of their 40-year rivalry.
- Yahoo Inc (YHOO) is considering a plan to unload most of its prized Asian assets in a complex deal valued at roughly $17 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.
- Baby formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (MJN) shares fell as much as 9% at the open today, following reports that Wal-Mart (WMT) stores pulled one of the company’s products from some 3,000 stores. According to the Associated Press, Wal-Mart took the precautionary move following the death of an infant in Missouri who was fed the powdered formula Enfamil Newborn.
- Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM), operator of a server network that lets businesses speed data delivery, jumped 18% in New York trading, after agreeing to buy startup competitor Cotendo Inc. for about $268 million in cash.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Avenue Capital Group, a New York based hedge fund owned by billionaire Marc Lasry, which holds debt in Denver-based Quiznos would take control of the struggling restaurant chain under a deal set to go before creditors before the year ends, according to sources.
- Hedge-fund marketers can expect to pocket 15% to 20% more in total pay this year than last, according to a report released by Alpha Search Advisory Partners, a New York-based executive search firm for the alternative investment industry. In addition, hedge fund hiring for several types of positions will increase in the coming year.
- A Utah hedge fund manager, Thomas Repke, has admitted to defrauding investors of more than $30 million. Repke’s Coadum Capital ripped off more than 100 investors, prosecutors said. The two allegedly promised 5% month return, but actually stole more than $20 million of the money raised, transferring it to accounts in Switzerland and Malta, rather than investing it in hedge funds allegedly run by a Malta-based trader.
- Madrid-based hedge fund Vega Asset Management has threatened to take legal action against officials negotiating Greece’s debt restructuring if its bond losses turn out to be too deep.
Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP, the hedge fund founded by Alan Howard, paid its partners as much as 128.3 million pounds ($201.3 million) in the 12 months ending in March, a 79 percent drop from a year earlier as fees plunged.