Post Market Update
* US: Dow: 12454.80 (-0.60%), S&P 500: 1317.82 (-0.22%), NASDAQ: 2837.53 (-0.07%)
* Europe: CAC: 3047.94 (0.32%), DAX: 6339.94 (0.38%), FTSE: 5351.53 (0.03%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4029.20 (-0.66%), China: 2333.55 (-0.75%), Hong Kong: 18713.41 (0.25%), India: 4920.40 (-0.02%), Japan: 8580.39 (0.20%).
* Metals: Gold: 1568.90 (0.73%), Silver: 28.39 (0.81%), Copper: 3.45 (0.57%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 90.86 (0.22%), Natural Gas: 2.57 (-2.98%)
* Commodities: Corn: 5.78 (0.00%), Soya Bean: 12.89 (1.02%), Wheat: 6.80 (2.56%)
* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2517 (0.18%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5663 (0.03%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.6650 (0.10%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.738% (-0.039)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end lower: U.S. markets finished lower on Friday as concern about Spain’s finances weighed on the market ahead of a long weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) fell 0.60 percent to close at 12,454.83. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) slipped 0.22 percent to finish at 1,317.82, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) erased 0.07 percent to end at 2,837.53.
Oil prices rise: Oil prices rose on Friday amid a rise in U.S. consumer sentiment, and lack of progress in talks between world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Crude oil for June delivery increased 0.2 percent, to settle at $90.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for July settlement gained 0.3 percent to $106.83 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
U.S. consumer confidence rises: U.S. consumer sentiment rose in May to the highest level since October 2007, according to a report released by Reuters and the University of Michigan. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment increased to 79.3 in May, the ninth straight increase, up from 76.4 in the previous month. Economists were expecting the gauge to hold at the preliminary reading of 77.8.
Company News Update
* Activist investor Carl Icahn has disclosed a 7.6 percent stake in Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) after the close on Friday, and has called for the replacement of at least four of the troubled oil and natural gas company’s current board members.
* The market-making arm of Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) suffered losses of around $20 million stemming from last Friday’s glitchy Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) listing on NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ)’s U.S. exchange.
* The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security is investigating how a multi-million-dollar storage system from NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP), ended up being used by the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
* The Talbots, Inc. (NYSE:TLB) said that private-equity firm Sycamore Partners is no longer pursuing a takeover of the struggling women’s retailer.
* Israel-based genomics company Rosetta Genomics Ltd. (USA) (NASDAQ:ROSG) has announced that it is selling 570,755 shares to investors at a 29 percent discount to yesterday’s closing price, to help raise cash to fund operations.
* Uroplasty, Inc. (NASDAQ:UPI) saw a huge rally in trade today, a day after the medical-device maker announced two new research and development initiatives. The stock surged 25 percent to end at $4.18.
* Crude oil tanker operator Frontline Ltd. (USA) (NYSE:FRO) reported first-quarter earnings per share of 9 cents that trailed Street expectation of 10 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter stood at $167.3 million that managed to beat analysts’ estimates.
* Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:VIP), the world’s sixth-largest wireless operator, said today that a Russian court has issued an injunction in a case involving investments in Russia, and has banned the company and its Russian unit from paying dividends for its 2011 earnings.
Hedge Fund News Update
* Chris Levett’s $3.3 billion London-based hedge fund Clive Capital LLP is up about 7 percent in the first three weeks of May after betting that oil, coal and power prices would fall. The hedge fund gained as much as $230 million after oil tumbled as much as 12 percent.
* London-based RK Capital Management, a metals-focused hedge fund has warned that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)’s plan to launch a physical copper exchange-traded fund would artificially inflate prices and wreak havoc on the global economy.
* US hedge funds York Capital Management, King Street Capital, Marathon Capital, Claren Road Asset Management, Pentwater Capital Management and Litespeed Management are among a handful of AMR Corp, the bankrupt parent of American Airlines, bondholders who are studying a merger proposal from US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE:LCC). American Airlines has said that it doesn’t need a merger with US Airways to survive, and can be strong as a standalone company.
* Hedge funds in Guernsey, one of Europe’s biggest fund domiciles, grew by £8.7 billion ($13.6 billion) in the first three months of the year, bringing the net asset value of the island’s funds under management and administration to £270.1 billion ($423.5 billion), according to new figures from the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.
* Pennsylvania-based asset manager Copeland Capital Management has hired Erik B. Granade, the former chief investment officer for global equities at Invesco Ltd. (NYSE:IVZ), to help start its new global dividend growth hedge fund.
* The $1.7 billion Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund is all set to add an emerging markets relative value credit hedge fund and a global macro emerging markets hedge fund within the next couple of months, according to media reports. The Texas public pension currently has $305 million in hedge fund investments.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Friday, May 25, 2012
* Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Argus with a target price of $72.
* Dorman Products Inc. (NASDAQ:DORM) was raised to “buy” from “hold” at BB&T Capital Mkts.
* E-House (China) Holdings Limited (ADR) (NYSE:EJ) was upgraded to “hold” from “sell” at Maxim Group.
* Gulfport Energy Corporation (NASDAQ:GPOR) was raised to “outperform” from “sector perform” at RBC Capital Mkts with a target price of $27.
* Salesforce.com, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) was upgraded to “outperform” from “perform” at Oppenheimer with a target price of $180.
* Uroplasty, Inc. (NASDAQ:UPI) was raised to “market outperform” from “market perform” at JMP Securities with a target price of $6.
* Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) was cut to “hold” from “buy” at KeyBanc Capital Mkts.
* NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Argus.
* Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) was cut to “above average” from “buy” at Caris & Company with a target price of $56.