- US: Dow: 12942.49 (-0.19%), S&P 500: 1359.65 (-0.19%), NASDAQ: 2938.44 (-0.35%)
- Europe: CAC: 3447.37 (-0.52%), DAX: 6843.87 (-0.93%), FTSE: 5916.55 (-0.20%).
- Asia:China: 2403.59 (0.92%),Hong Kong: 21549.28 (0.33%),India: 5505.35 (-1.82%),Japan: 9554.00 (0.95%)
- Metals: Gold: 1758.80 (0.02%), Silver: 34.11 (-0.93%), Copper: 3.83 (-0.09%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 105.77 (-0.45%), Natural Gas: 2.59 (-1.41%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.33 (0.48%), Soya Bean: 12.67 (-0.31%), Wheat: 6.38 (0.71%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3250 (0.12%), GBP/USD: 1.5676 (-0.65%), USD/JPY: 80.3300 (0.74%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.026% (-0.033)
Market News Update
U.S. Markets down: U.S. stocks drifted lower Wednesday amid doubts over the latest bailout for Greece and concerns about global economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 25 points, or 0.2%, in late morning trading. The S&P 500 fell 3 points, or 0.2%. The NASDAQ sank 11 points, or 0.4%. http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/22/markets/stocks/index.htm?iid=HP_LN
US home resales at two and half year high: U.S. home resales surged in January to a 1-1/2 year high and the supply of properties on the market was the lowest in almost seven years, pointing to a nascent housing recovery. The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday existing home sales increased 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.57 million units last month, the highest since May 2010. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/22/us-usa-economy-housing-idUSTRE81F0UU20120222
Fitch cuts Greece: Fitch ratings agency on Wednesday slashed its rating for Greek sovereign debt to “C” from “CCC,” indicating that default is “highly likely in the near term.” The downgrade comes just after the country secured a second bailout from its creditors and the subsequent announcement by the Greek government that private investors holding Greek debt would be forced to accept a debt swap, in which they exchange their bonds for lower-value debt.
Brent Crude nears $123: North Sea Brent crude-oil futures were 1% higher at nine-month highs near $123 a barrel amid rising tensions over what the West says is Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. The chief United Nations nuclear inspector probing Iran’s alleged atomic weapons drive said Wednesday negotiations have reached an impasse following a high-stakes two-day visit to the Islamic republic. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203918304577239090101674370.html?mod=WSJ_Markets_LEFTTopStories
Construction jobs rebound: Construction hiring is picking up as Americans invest in renovating their homes amid signs that the worst of the housing-market declines may be over. The number of people working in residential remodeling grew 5.8 percent in December to 250,700 from a year earlier, based on preliminary data released Feb. 3 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was the highest growth for these jobs — which account for about 5 percent of construction employment — since December 2006, before the housing bubble burst.
Company News Update
- Dell (DELL) reported results after the closing bell Tuesday, missing analysts’ expectations. Shares fell almost 7% in early trading Wednesday.
- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) will be in focus Wednesday, with quarterly results due after the market closes. Hewlett-Packard is expected to post earnings of 86 cents per share, down from $1.36 a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters.
- Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL) posted a $2.79 million loss Wednesday, compared to a $3.42 million profit last year. The company’s revenues declined and missed expectations.
- Apple (AAPL) was also in focus, with shares slipping 0.7%, as the tech giant faced Chinese company Proview International in aShanghai courtroom on allegations that it does not own rights to the iPad trademark inChina.
- Netflix’s (NFLX) stock continued to lose ground after Comcast (CMCSA) said that it is working on a new subscription video-on-demand competitor, named “Streampix.” But the streaming service will only be available to those who also subscribe to Comcast cable.
- Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were higher in early trading. Late Tuesday, the company announced that CEO Bill Weldon will step down in April.
- Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, which has been in the headlines lately for its tussles with stakeholder Yahoo (YHOO), wants to take its publicly traded Web portal private.
- Intuit Inc. (INTU) gained 6.5 percent to $61.24. The seller of TurboTax software for filing with the Internal Revenue Service boosted its full-year earnings forecast.
- Range Resources Corp. (RRC) rose 2.9 percent to $66.12. The oil and gas company reported fourth- quarter sales that beat the average analyst estimate by 8.8 percent, according to data compiled Bloomberg.
Hedge Fund News Update
- A firm run by John Paulson was sued on Tuesday by a prominent Miami investor who claimed the billionaire’s hedge funds failed to conduct proper due diligence on Chinese forestry company Sino-Forest before buying shares, costing investors more than $460 million.
- Hedge funds look set to take center stage as European merger-and-acquisition activity starts to pick up after a long drought and as bets on winning prices and bidders trigger dramatic rises in the stock price of target companies.
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s (GS) hedge fund industry group chief, C. Howard Wietschner, is retiring after 18 years at the securities firm. The departure of Wietschner, who was named partner a decade ago, was disclosed in a memo today to employees, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.
- Luxembourg-based hedge fund Weston International Investment Ltd has initiated legal proceedings against Indonesian lender Bank Mutiara for a $70 million deposit repayment, Weston said in a statement on Wednesday.
- Doric Capital Corp, one of Hong Kong’s oldest hedge fund firms founded by former Man Group Plc executive Michael Nock, has shut its decade-old Asia ex-Japan long/short equity fund and plans to focus on managing its small-cap strategy.
- Lansdowne Partners, one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund firms, is to rename its flagship $7.5 billion UK Equity fund, reflecting its overseas investments and allowing it to invest in emerging markets, a source close to the firm told Reuters.
- From classic to Chinese or even Texan, hedge funds are deploying a variety of trading strategies this year to make the most of sizeable deals, including Glencore and Roche, after a freeze in deal-making dented their returns during the second half of 2011. Known as arbitrageurs, hedge funds that make profits by betting on the outcome of mergers and acquisition activity finished 2011 with an average loss of around 2 percent, according to data from Hedge Fund Research – a far cry from the average 9.1 percent return they had enjoyed since 1990.
- Morningstar, Inc., a leading provider of independent investment research, today reported preliminary hedge fund performance for January 2012 as well as estimated asset flows through December 2011. The Morningstar MSCI Composite Hedge Fund Index, an asset-weighted composite of nearly 1,000 hedge funds in the Morningstar database, increased 1.9% in January, but fell short of the MSCI World NR Stock Index’s 5.0% rise. This marks the hedge fund index’s largest monthly gain since December 2010.
- Hedge funds increased commodity bets to the highest in almost five months on signs that a rescue plan forGreeceand fasterUSgrowth will buoy demand as supplies shrink for everything from soybeans to copper. Money managers boosted net long positions across 18USfutures and options by 2.9% to 956,313 contracts in the week ended Feb 14, the most since Sept 20, government data show. Soybean wagers jumped 29% to a five-month high. Silver holdings rose for a seventh straight week, the longest advance in almost three years.