Mid-Day Market Action
- US: Dow: 12314.13 (0.16%), S&P 500: 1267.98 (0.21%), NASDAQ: 2631.17 (0.48%)
- Europe: CAC: 3103.11 (0.03%), DAX: 5889.76 (0.18%), FTSE: 5512.70 (1.01%).
- Asia:Australia: 4140.40 (1.21%),China: 2166.21 (-1.10%),Hong Kong: 18629.17 (1.35%),India: 4750.50 (-0.60%),Japan: 8440.56 (-0.46%),Korea: 1842.02 (-0.80%),Singapore: 2673.62 (-0.11%),
- Metals: Gold: 1593.40 (-0.79%), Silver: 28.71 (-1.29%), Copper: 3.41 (-1.64%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 101.13 (1.45%), Natural Gas: 3.10 (-0.42%)
- Agriculture: Corn: 6.33 (2.18%), Soya Bean: 12.01 (3.25%), Wheat: 6.46 (3.82%).
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3076 (0.1108%), GBP/USD: 1.5664 (0.2129%), USD/JPY: 77.861 (-0.1462%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.010% (-0.014)
Market News Update
US markets drift higher in quiet trading: US stocks latched onto modest gains in a lackluster session today, helped by a better-than-expected consumer confidence report, but investors remained on the sidelines amid what is expected to be a light news week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 19 points, or less than 0.2%, in afternoon trading. http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/27/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm?iid=HP_LN
Oil rises as Iran threatens Strait of Hormuz: Oil rose on Tuesday, as Iranian threats to cut off the key oil shipping route through the Strait of Hormuz added to concerns about supplies from the Middle East. It was not the first time Iranian leaders have threatened to shut the strait due to the standoff over the nation’s nuclear program. http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2011/12/27/oil-tops-100-on-iran-threat/
Gold falls in technical selling: Gold slipped in very light trade on Tuesday, as technical selling and a lack of fresh economic news failed to stimulate buying interest in the final week of the year.
Consumer confidence jumps to 8-month high: U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in December, hitting an eight-month high, as Americans grew more upbeat about the labor market and their financial situation. The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer sentiment increased to 64.5 from a downwardly revised 55.2 in November. http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/27/news/economy/consumer_confidence/index.htm?iid=HP_LN
Euro trading near its 11-month low: The euro traded at almost its lowest level since January against the dollar as concern lingered thatEurope’s debt crisis will slow regional economic growth. The 17-nation currency fluctuated beforeItaly sells bills and bonds tomorrow. Trading was quiet, withUK markets closed andU.S. dealers more thinly staffed than usual, making for only slender moves in most major currency pairs.
Company News Update
- Sears Holdings (SHLD) disclosed plans on Tuesday to close more than 100 stores and slash inventories next year. The news sent Sears shares plunging more than 16% in early trading.
- Mobile-device leader Apple (AAPL) will start making materials for full iTV sets in the first quarter of 2012.The television sets would be available in the second or third quarter of 2012, according to sources.
- General Electric’s (GE) GE Capital unveiled plans on Tuesday to scoop up $7.5 billion in deposits and most of MetLife’s (MET ) bank deposit business, as the largest U.S. life insurer looks to exit the heavily-regulated lending business.
- Sharp Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and five other makers of liquid crystal display panels used in computers and televisions agreed to pay $538.6 million to settle antitrust claims by indirect purchasers.
- Bank of America (BAC) is lagging behind its majorU.S. competitors in complying with new capital rules, leading the bank to consider even more asset sales, according to reports.
- Swiss oil refiner Petroplus said lenders had frozen about $1 billion in borrowing allowances the company relies on to buy crude oil, meaning supplies forEurope’s largest independent refiner could dry up within days.
- Ventas Inc. (VTR), the owner of more than 1,300 senior-housing and medical properties, said it will acquire Cogdell Spencer Inc. and its 72 medical office buildings in a deal valued at $770 million.
- Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (MJN), the world’s leading seller of children’s formula, jumped the most in five months after the company said tests showed no bacteria in a batch of the product used by a baby who died. Mead Johnson rose 6.3 percent to $69.38 in early morning trading.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Sears (SHLD), the retailer controlled by hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert, fell as much as 24 percent after announcing it will close as many as 120 stores because sales of consumer electronics declined in the holiday shopping period. Bruce Berkowitz’s $8 billion Fairholme Fund (FAIRX) owns 16.3 million shares, or 15 percent of the company.
- Hedge funds have suffered their second worst year on record as volatile markets, plunging commodities and political uncertainty torpedoed the investment plans of even the $2 trillion (£1.28 trillion) sector’s biggest stars, according to a report in the Telegraph.
- Large managed futures funds, including hedge funds, in the past week sold gold and silver, kept buying U.S. dollars and added to their short positions in the S&P 500, according to an analysis by Merrill Lynch using data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as well as its own sources.
- Hedge funds reduced bets on higher commodity prices to the lowest level since 2009 just as raw materials headed for their biggest weekly rally in two months. Money managers cut their combined net-long position across 18 U.S.futures and options by 15 percent to 454,512 contracts in the week ended Dec. 20, the lowest since March 2009, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities climbed 4.5 percent last week, erasing this year’s declines and pushing the index toward its third consecutive annual advance.
- MANY of the hedge funds that together own 70 per cent of relaunched shopping centre landlord Centro Retail Australia are unlikely to be early sellers because they have only broken even or are losing money on their investment. US hedge funds snapped up the troubled Centro Properties Group debt last year after similar and profitable plays in the US, buying debt from the company’s bankers at between 46c and 80c in the dollar. Among those to emerge with large chunks of debt were billionaire John Paulson’s Paulson & Co, Davidson Kempner Capital Management and investor David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management.