* US: Dow: 12529.80 (0.27%), S&P 500: 1320.68 (0.14%), NASDAQ: 2839.38 (-0.38%)
* Europe: CAC: 3038.25 (1.15%), DAX: 6315.89 (0.48%), FTSE: 5350.05 (1.56%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4055.80 (-0.28%), China: 2350.97 (-0.53%), Hong Kong: 18666.40 (-0.64%), India: 4921.47 (1.77%), Japan: 8563.38 (0.08%).
* Metals: Gold: 1557.50 (0.59%), Silver: 28.16 (2.32%), Copper: 3.43 (0.96%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 90.66 (0.85%), Natural Gas: 2.65 (-3.29%)
* Commodities: Corn: 5.78 (-4.14%), Soya Bean: 12.76 (1.47%), Wheat: 6.63 (-0.38%)
* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2534 (0.44%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5666 (0.17%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 79.5950 (0.19%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.777% (0.043)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets recover to end mixed: U.S. markets recovered from earlier losses to finish mixed on Thursday amid growing investor concern that Greece will exit the euro zone. . The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 0.27 percent, to end at 12,529.75. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) eked out a small gain of 0.14 percent to finish at 1,320.68, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) fell 0.38 percent to close at 2,839.38.
Oil prices rise: Oil prices rebounded from a seven-month low on Thursday as talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program ended without concrete agreement. Crude oil for June delivery increased 0.9 percent, to settle at $90.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for July settlement gained 0.9 percent to $106.55 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Company News Update
* VeriFone Systems Inc (NYSE:PAY), the maker of credit card swipe machines, posted second quarter earnings, excluding items of 64 cents a share that topped the average analysts’ estimate of 61 cents a share. But the San Jose, California-based company forecast third quarter revenue that was below Street expectations.
* Computer networking company Infoblox Inc (NYSE:BLOX) posted third quarter earnings of 5 cents a share on revenue of $43 million that topped analysts’ expectation of earnings of 1 cent a share on sales of $41 million. The company also provided a better than expected quarterly guidance.
* The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) has been awarded $2.16 billion in damages by an international arbitration court from its dispute with Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries that pulled out of a multi-billion-dollar joint venture in 2008.
* Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has become one of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK)’s largest shareholders, with a stake of more than 4 percent, according to a Bloomberg report. According to another news report, BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) has increased its stake in the second-biggest U.S. natural-gas producer to 5 million shares from 1 million shares.
* United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) is planning to raise $9.8 billion in the largest U.S. corporate bond sale since February 2009, to help finance its $16.5 billion take-over of Goodrich Corporation (NYSE:GR).
* Packaged baked-goods company Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO) reported first quarter profit of $37.9 million, or 28 cents a share, in-line with the analyst estimate. Revenue for the quarter stood at $898.2 million, easily beating the consensus estimate of $889.74 million.
* The Toro Company (NYSE:TTC), the manufacturer of lawn-care equipment, reported better than expected fiscal second quarter results, as the early arrival of spring in much of the U.S. helped sales of grounds-care equipment. The company also raised its full-year outlook.
* Auto repair chain Monro Muffler Brake Inc (NASDAQ:MNRO) reported fiscal fourth quarter net income of $10.5 million, or 33 cents a share, on revenue of $171.7 million, that missed most Wall Street forecasts. The company also announced an 11.1 percent increase in quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share from 9 cents a share.
* Alexandria-based diversified federal services company VSE Corporation (NASDAQ:VSEC) has been awarded a 10-year prime contract by the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health worth up to $20 billion.
* Food processing company Bunge Limited (NYSE:BG) raised its quarterly dividend from 25 cents a share to 27 cents a share.
Hedge Fund News Update
* Saba Capital, founded by Boaz Weinstein, the former co-head of credit trading at Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE:DB), has returned 16 percent this month, and the gains were mostly made on the CDS that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) lost billions on.
* Chicago-based Citadel LLC lost $30-$35 million on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) trades in a $1 billion hedge fund, which was very similar to the amount that Knight Capital reportedly lost due to Facebook-related trading.
* HBK Capital Management, one of Dallas’ largest and oldest hedge fund firms, has closed its flagship multi-strategy fund to new investors, after receiving approximately $475 million in investments in the first quarter of 2012.
* New York-based Cascabel Management, the long-short equity hedge fund founded by former Tiger Management director Scott Sinclair and Avenue Capital portfolio manager Laurence Chang, has raked in more than $100 million since the fund opened for sale on April 1 last year.
* David Adams, who ran Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)’s interest rates trading desk in Sydney, will leave the bank to join hedge fund giant Brevan Howard.
* Singapore-based Orvent Asset Management, founded by former Millennium Management portfolio manager Scott Collison, has closed its $130 million event-driven hedge fund after its Swedish seed capital investor, Burmmer & Partners, redeemed its investment at the end of April, Reuters reported.
* Institutional money manager Commonfund announced the appointment of Brett Lane as the new managing director, hedge fund strategies. Prior to joining Commonfund, Lane was the was Senior Vice President, Head of Americas Alternative Investments Sales & Marketing for HSBC Private Bank, New York.
* Kyle Bass’ Dallas-based Hayman Capital Management will launch an Irish-domiciled version of its flagship hedge fund that should give non-U.S. investors greater access to Hayman.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Thursday, May 24, 2012
* Assured Guaranty Ltd. (NYSE:AGO) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” at UBS AG with a target price of $18.
* Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE:DUK) was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at UBS AG with a target price of $24.
* Retalix Limited (NASDAQ:RTLX) was upgraded to “outperform” from “perform” at Oppenheimer with a target price of $25.
* Trina Solar Limited (ADR) (NYSE:TSL) was raised to “hold” from “sell” at Maxim Group.
* Westlake Chemical Corporation (NYSE:WLK) was upgraded to “neutral” from “sell” at UBS AG with a target price of $54.