* US: Dow: 13072.82 (-0.41%), S&P 500: 1394.81 (-0.76%), NASDAQ: 3077.05 (-0.90%)
* Europe: CAC: 3381.12 (-1.45%), DAX: 6875.15 (-1.80%), FTSE: 5742.03 (-1.17%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4337.90 (-0.13%), China: 2252.16 (-1.45%), Hong Kong: 20609.39 (-1.34%), India: 5178.85 (-0.31%), Japan: 10114.79 (-0.67%).
* Metals: Gold: 1654.20 (-0.22%), Silver: 32.04 (0.66%), Copper: 3.79 (-0.14%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 102.54 (-2.72%), Natural Gas: 2.15 (-5.70%)
* Commodities: Corn: 6.03 (-2.70%), Soya Bean: 13.54 (-0.97%), Wheat: 6.12 (-2.97%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3280 (-0.28%), GBP/USD: 1.5927 (0.25%), USD/JPY: 82.3700 (-0.64%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 2.159% (-0.041)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets trading lower: Markets were firmly in the red for the third consecutive day after the weekly jobless claims fell below expectations. Concerns about a growth slowdown in China have also played a role in sentiment turning negative. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) and NASDAQ (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) was all trading more than 0.5 percent lower.
U.S. jobless claims fall to four year low: The Labor Department said today the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since April 2008, adding to evidence that the labor market is steadily improving. Initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 359,000 in the week ended March 24.
Oil down 2 percent: Oil fell more than 2 percent on Thursday after France indicated that governments are nearing an agreement on a release from emergency stockpiles in hopes of bringing down high fuel prices. Crude oil for May delivery dropped 2.8 percent at 1:48 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for May settlement decreased 2 percent on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Company News Update
* AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) fell more than a percent after Robert W. Baird & Co. downgraded both the stocks to “neutral” from “outperform”. RBC yesterday cut its rating on Verizon to “sector perform” from “outperform.”
* Investment firm, Janus Capital (NYSE:JNS) slumped 4.2 percent after equities research analysts at Jefferies Group cut the firm to “hold” from “buy”.
* Fertilizer maker, Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) slipped 6 percent after recording a sharp fall in earnings due to lower potash fertilizer sales and higher costs in phosphate fertilizer.
* Millennial Media (MM), the second-largest mobile- advertising company in the U.S., more than doubled on the first day of trading. The stock priced at the high end of its expected range in its initial public offering, surged more than 90 percent and was last trading at $25.88.
* Rexnord Corp. (RXN), the ball-bearing maker owned by Apollo Global Management LLC, rose 9.7 percent in its market debut.
* Watch and jewelry maker, Movado Group Inc. (NYSE:MOV) rallied 10 percent to reach the highest intraday price since September 2008, after it raised its quarterly dividend from 3 cents to 5 cents, and reported a 50 cent special cash dividend.
* Sykes Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ:SYKE), the operator of call centers increased 4.3 percent after it was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Craig Hallum Capital Group LLC.
* Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is slated to post earnings after the closing bell.
Hedge Fund News Update
* Neal Shear, former head of global securities at UBS AG and Jean Bourlot, former commodities head at UBS AG, have teamed up to start a London-based commodities hedge fund, Higgs Capital Management LLP.
* Isle of Man-based hedge fund, Laxey Partners, has urged Alliance Trust, one of Britain’s largest investment trusts, to raise its dividend.
* RAB Capital’s Special Situations hedge fund, led by Philip Richards, has cut back positions in some commodity stocks after witnessing gains of 20.9 percent in the first two months of the year.
* According to latest data from investment researcher Morningstar Inc, hedge-fund performance in February continued to lag the broader equity market. Hedge funds suffered outflows of $1.5 billion in January, the fourth straight month of investors taking out money.
* According to studies at the Imperial College of London, smaller hedge funds have outperformed the larger ones over the last 16 years. After analyzing over 20,000 funds, the research team found that funds with assets under management of less than $10m delivered average annual returns of 9.89%, while those managing between $500m and $1bn had average yearly returns of 5.84%. Funds with assets of more than $1bn delivered 5.45%.
* Ari Glass and Robert Rokhsar’s Boothbay Asset Management will launch their hybrid multi-manager Boothbay Hybrid Fund on Sunday, April 1, 2012.
* Thierry Lucas, the former Eton Park portfolio manager, will unveil his new hedge fund, Portland Hill Capital, on May 1. The hedge fund will be a liquid Europe-focused event-driven and equity long/short vehicle.
* S. Donald Sussman’s Maine Values LLC has bought a 75 percent stake in MaineToday Media, which owns and operates The Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel and the Coastal Journal.