Every afternoon we provide an update on global market levels, company news, economic news, and hedge fund news.
Post Market Update
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* US: Dow: 13413.50 (-0.33%), S&P 500: 1433.32 (-0.57%), NASDAQ: 3093.70 (-0.77%)
* Europe: CAC: 3414.84 (-2.90%), DAX: 7276.51 (-2.04%), FTSE: 5768.09 (-1.59%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4361.60 (-0.26%), China: 2004.17 (-1.25%), Hong Kong: 20527.73 (-0.83%), India: 5663.45 (-0.18%), Japan: 8906.70 (-2.08%).
* Metals: Gold: 1753.60 (-0.72%), Silver: 33.94 (-0.02%), Copper: 3.71 (-0.55%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 89.98 (-1.52%), Natural Gas: 3.02 (3.39%)
* Commodities: Corn: 7.24 (-2.55%), Soya Bean: 15.73 (-2.39%), Wheat: 8.69 (-1.95%)
* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2873 (0.27%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6164 (0.23%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 77.7150 (-0.10%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.609% (-0.057)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end lower: U.S. markets closed lower on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 declining for the fifth consecutive session, amid investor concerns about the unrest in Greece and Spain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) declined for a fourth day, falling 44.04 points, or 0.33 percent, to close at 13,413.51. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) slumped 8.27 points, or 0.57 percent, to finish at 1,433.32, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) lost 24.03 points, or 0.77 percent, to end at 3,093.70.
Oil prices tumble: Oil prices fell below $90 on Wednesday as the euro slumped to a two-week low against the dollar. Crude oil for November delivery fell 1.5 percent, to settle at $89.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for November settlement declined 0.4 percent to $109.97 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
* Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) CFO Ken Goldman will receive up to $18 million in salary, bonuses and stock options over the next four years, according to a regulatory filing.
* Research In Motion Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:RIMM) jumped 6 percent after Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski raised her revenue estimate for the stock, citing the unexpected increase in the BlackBerry maker’s subscriber base.
* Homebuilders ended the day deep in the red after new homes sales in August missed estimates. PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM) dropped 5 percent, while D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI) slid 4 percent. Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN) decreased 4.5 percent.
* Thomson Reuters Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TRI) is considering a sale of its Corporate Services division, which is reportedly worth about $100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
* Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB) said that its experimental treatment for patients with hemophilia B has met main goal of controlling bleeding in a late-stage study.
* Dean Foods Company (NYSE:DF) said that it is seeking a buyer for its Morningstar dairy division, the smallest of its three segments, which is expected to fetch more than $1 billion in a sale, according to a Reuters report.
* Molecular diagnostics company Cepheid (NASDAQ:CPHD) slashed its third-quarter revenue outlook but reaffirmed its full-year guidance.
* Progress Software Corporation (NASDAQ:PRGS) posted third quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 31 cents a share, on revenue of $107 million. Analysts had forecast earnings excluding items of 24 cents a share on sales of $112 million.
* Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) launched two lighter and thinner hi-definition versions of its Nook e-reader tablet, at a time when intense competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), has seen consumers increasingly move away from traditional books and DVDs to e-books and streaming video.
* Diversified metal manufacturer Worthington Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WOR) reported first quarter earnings of 49 cents a share on revenue of $666 million that beat the average analysts’ estimate of earnings of 47 cents a share on sales of $660 million.
* Recreational vehicles maker Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE:THO) posted fourth quarter earnings of 84 cents a share that beat estimates for 77 cents a share. Revenues for the quarter came in at $888 million, compared to $771 million in the year ago period. Analysts were expecting revenue of $886.84 million.
* Consumer-goods company Blyth, Inc. (NYSE:BTH) tumbled 21 percent after its nutritional supplement unit, ViSalus withdrew its proposed initial public offering of up to $175 million, citing uncertain market conditions.
* American Greetings Corporation (NYSE:AM) soared 17 percent after announcing that a group led by its chief executive and chief operating officer wants to take the gift card and party goods company private in a deal that values it at about $581 million.
* Columbia Banking System Inc (NASDAQ:COLB) has agreed to buy West Coast Bancorp (NASDAQ:WCBO) for about $506 million in cash and stock.
* InterDigital, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDCC) and Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (NYSE:GWR) both ended significantly higher following news that the companies will replace Quest Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:QSFT) and Collective Brands Inc. (NYSE:PSS), respectively, in the S&P Midcap 400 Index.
* Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ:ZION) has repaid the remaining $700 million it received from the U.S. Treasury under a federal bailout during the financial crisis in 2008.
* Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB DE CV (NYSE:BSMX), a subsidiary of Spain’s Banco Santander, S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:SAN), ended 6 percent higher in its market debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
* Building-materials manufacturer Omnova Solutions Inc. (NYSE:OMN) ended 12 percent lower after reporting fiscal third-quarter profit of $6.4 million, or 14 cents a share, compared to $400,000, or a penny a share, a year earlier. Revenue declined 8.5 percent to $288.2 million.
* Fortinet, Inc. (NASDAQ:FTNT) fell 3.2 percent amid news that its chief financial officer, Ken Goldman, was leaving the network security company for Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO).
Hedge Fund News Update
* Hal Lehr, the former global head for cross-commodity trading at Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE:DB), will launch a hedge fund in New York, later this year, according to a Bloomberg report.
* Hong Kong-based Sharp Peak Capital Management is shutting down its volatility hedge fund, Sharp Peak Vega Fund, after suffering double digit losses since its launch in October last year.
* U.S. institutional investors are increasing their exposure to hedge funds and private equity, to counter the volatility in stock markets, data from a survey conducted by Natixis Global Asset Management showed.
* Andrew Mack, the former head of Europe at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, has been named as the chief executive and chief risk officer of London-based Portman Square Capital Management.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Wednesday, September 26, 2012
* C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHRW) was raised to “outperform” from “peer perform” by analysts at Wolfe Trahan.
* Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI) was lifted to “strong buy” from “outperform” by analysts at Raymond James with a target price of $11.
* PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at CL King.
* Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF) was cut to “underperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods with a target price of $9.
* Bristow Group Inc (NYSE:BRS) was lowered to “sell” from “neutral” by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
* Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Jefferies Group with a target price of $37.50.
* Convergys Corporation (NYSE:CVG) was cut to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Macquarie.
* Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Bank of America.
* EPL Oil & Gas Inc (NYSE:EPL) was lowered to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Stifel Nicolaus.
* Gevo, Inc. (NASDAQ:GEVO) was cut by analysts at UBS AG from a “buy” rating to a “sell” rating.
* GT Advanced Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:GTAT) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Canaccord Genuity with a target price of $6.
* Home Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:HOMB) was lowered to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Stifel Nicolaus.
* MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:MKTX) was cut by analysts at Credit Suisse from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating with a target price of $28.
* Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) was downgraded to “average” from “above average” by analysts at Caris & Co. with a target price of $12.
* Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ:PAYX) was lowered to “equal weight” from “overweight” by analysts at First Analysis.
* Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) was cut by analysts at Atlantic Securities from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating with a target price of $33.
* PACCAR Inc (NASDAQ:PCAR) was downgraded to “neutral” from “overweight” by analysts at Robert W. Baird with a target price of $39.
* Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (NASDAQ:SIAL) was lowered to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at UBS AG with a target price of $76.
* SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) was cut by analysts at was cut by analysts at JMP Securities from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform”rating.