Midday Market News – March 23, 2012

Midday Market News - March 23, 2012Every afternoon ValueWalk provides an update on global market levels, economic news, and hedge fund news.

Market Levels

 * US: Dow: 13092.69 (0.36%), S&P 500: 1397.64 (0.35%), NASDAQ: 3067.88 (0.15%)

* Europe: CAC: 3476.18 (0.11%), DAX: 6995.62 (0.21%), FTSE: 5854.89 (0.16%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4270.40 (-0.08%), China: 2349.54 (-1.12%), Hong Kong: 20668.80 (-1.13%), India: 5278.20 (0.95%), Japan: 10011.47 (-1.15%).

* Metals: Gold: 1662.00 (1.19%), Silver: 32.21 (-0.19%), Copper: 3.80 (-0.13%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 106.78 (1.36%), Natural Gas: 2.30 (1.15%)

* Commodities: Corn: 6.46 (0.27%), Soya Bean: 13.66 (1.26%), Wheat: 6.54 (1.28%)

* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3262 (0.46%), GBP/USD: 1.5868 (0.30%), USD/JPY: 83.5000 (-0.04%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 2.230% (-0.046)

Market and Economy News Update

 U.S. markets move higher: Gain in energy shares due to the rally in oil offset a disappointing new home sales report. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) were up more than 0.3 percent, while the NASDAQ (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) is trading 0.1 percent higher.

 New home sales dip in February: New single-family home sales unexpectedly fell in February for a second month but prices jumped to their highest level in eight months. The Commerce Department said sales dropped 1.6 percent to a 313,000-unit annual rate, from a 318,000 rate in January. The median price for a new home rose 8.3 percent to $233,700, the highest since June last year. https://www.valuewalk.com/2012/03/figures-show-313k-new-home-sales-in-february/

 Oil jumps: Oil rallied almost $3 a barrel on reports that Iranian oil exports have fallen significantly this month due to tighter Western sanctions. Reuters said Iranian oil exports will drop by 300,000 barrels a day in March. More information at following link-https://www.valuewalk.com/2012/03/oil-moves-on-iranian-false-report-uso-chart-included/

Crude oil for May delivery rose 1.6 percent a barrel in mid-day trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for May settlement gained 1.6 percent a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

 Gold rises more than a percent: Gold jumped more than 1 percent on Friday and is set for its first weekly rise in four weeks, a spurt in crude oil prices and a sharp drop in the dollar prompted investors to short-covering. U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose $21.80 to $1,664.30 an ounce, while spot gold was up 1.14 percent an ounce.

 Company News Update

 * Trading in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was briefly halted in morning after the stock suddenly fell from $598 to $543. Trading resumed immediately, but NASDAQ is yet to issue a statement. Chart and more information at the following link-https://www.valuewalk.com/2012/03/apple-inc-aapl-trading-suspended-reactivated/

* Energy shares rebounded, after dragging the market lower in the past days. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) and  Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) were among the Dow’s biggest gainers. Consol Energy Inc. jumped 2.8 percent.

* KB Home (NYSE:KBH), the fifth-largest U.S. homebuilder, slumped 4.8 percent after the company posted a first-quarter loss that was worse than expected and also reported a decline in orders for new homes.

* Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) gained 3.8 percent and was the biggest mover in the S&P 500, as the stock was upgraded to “sector perform” from “underperform” at Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY).

* Drilling-services company, Layne Christensen Company (NASDAQ:LAYN), slid 8.1% after the company issued a warning late Thursday that its bottom line in the current quarter will drop much more than what analysts expect due to a decline in municipal spending.

* Steelcase Inc. (NYSE:SCS), the office-furniture maker, fell 2.3% after the company posted fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that fell way short of street expectations, and provided a first-quarter outlook that was below what analysts expected.

* Apparel retailer, The Wet Seal, Inc. (NASDAQ:WTSLA) slid 8.2% after the posting fiscal fourth-quarter results that was more or less in line with estimates but said that first-quarter sales will be below forecasts.

 Hedge Fund News Update

 * According to data compiled by industry tracker Eurekahedge, hedge funds in Asia have regained some momentum and have attracted net fund inflows of about US$600 million since the start of the year, which is remarkably better than the to outflows of US$2.7 billion seen in the last quarter of 2011.

* BNY Mellon Alternative Investment Services, a leading service provider for alternative assets, won the Best Asian Hedge Fund Administrator Award at the 2012 Hedgeweek Awards in London.

* Hedge Fund Research, appointed Joel M. Schwab as a managing director. Schwab joins from eVestment Alliance LLC.

* Andrey C. Hicks of the Boston-based Locust Offshore Management has been asked by a federal judge to pay $7.5 million for defrauding investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

* Coast Asset Management, the Santa Monica, California-based alternative asset manager, which serves high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors, will hive off its fund of hedge funds business to focus on its fixed-income arbitrage funds.

* BofA Merrill Lynch has been appointed as an additional prime broker by French hedge fund manager Bernheim, Dreyfus & Co. for the Diva Synergy Fund and the Diva Synergy UCITS Fund.

* According to news reports, the $74.7bn New Jersey State Investment Council, which overlooks the state’s seven retirement systems, following approval from the board on Wednesday, is set to invest upto $450m in new hedge funds, of which BlueCrest Capital International will receive $200m, Claren Road will receive $150m and Cadian Fund will manage $100m.

About the Author

Abhijit Sen
Abhijit Sen is a financial writer, commentator, with close to a decade's experience in analyzing global equity, commodity and Forex markets. He is based in India, and can be reached at abhijit.sen@valuewalk.com.