* US: Dow: 13596.60 (0.14%), S&P 500: 1460.26 (-0.05%), NASDAQ: 3175.96 (-0.21%)
* Europe: CAC: 3509.92 (-0.62%), DAX: 7389.49 (-0.02%), FTSE: 5854.64 (-0.58%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4397.20 (-0.48%), China: 2024.84 (-2.12%), Hong Kong: 20590.92 (-1.22%), India: 5554.25 (-0.82%), Japan: 9086.98 (-1.60%).
* Metals: Gold: 1770.20 (-0.08%), Silver: 34.64 (0.27%), Copper: 3.76 (-1.44%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 91.87 (-0.12%), Natural Gas: 2.80 (1.27%)
* Commodities: Corn: 7.46 (-1.39%), Soya Bean: 16.18 (-3.04%), Wheat: 8.79 (-0.23%)
* Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2969 (0.60%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6217 (0.02%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 78.2450 (-0.14%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.764% (-0.008)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end largely unchanged: U.S. markets ended flat in a lackluster session on Thursday as investors look for clues about the direction of the global economy amid several disappointing global economic reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 18.97 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 13,596.93. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) erased 0.79 points, or 0.05 percent, to finish at 1,460.26, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) slid 6.66 points, or 0.21 percent, to end at 3,175.96.
Oil prices fall: Oil prices declined for the fourth straight session, while Brent crude prices rebounded from a six-week low on Thursday. Crude oil for October delivery fell 0.1 percent, to settle at $91.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for November settlement rallied 2 percent to $110.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
* Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) posted first quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 53 cents a share, matching expectations. Revenue declined 2 percent to $8.21 billion from $8.4 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts were expecting revenue of $8.42 billion. New software sales during the quarter increased 6 percent to $1.6 billion, in line with its own forecasts.
* Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) fell 0.3 percent after Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) said it will stop selling Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s Kindle tablets and e-readers. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is the second major retailer after Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) to stop offering the items.
* Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has agreed to acquire Denbury Resources Inc. (NYSE:DNR)’s Bakken Oil Shale assets for $1.6 billion in cash.
* Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) used offshore units to successfully dodge billions of dollars in taxes, a U.S. Senate panel said on Thursday.
* Tibco Software Inc. (NASDAQ:TIBX) reported third quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 27 cents a share, in line with estimates. Revenue for the quarter increased 11 percent to $255 million, trailing estimates of $259.8 million.
* Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ:TXN) raised its quarterly dividend by 24 percent to 21 cents a share from 17 cents a share.
* J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) tanked 11 percent in Thursday trading after Chief Executive Ron Johnson warned that sales weakness at department store chain will persist in the second half of the year.
* James Murdoch is being considered to run News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA)’s U.S. television business, according to a report in the Financial Times.
* Oilfield-services company Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) has named Jeff Miller as its Chief Operating Officer
* Uniform maker Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS) reported first quarter earnings of 60 cents a share on revenue of $1.05 billion. Analysts had forecast earnings of 59 cents a share on revenue of $1.06 billion. The company forecast full-year earnings and revenue that were in line with expectations.
* High-end fashion retailer Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (NYSE:KORS) raised its current quarter and full-year earnings outlook.
* Online real estate listing service Trulia, Inc. (NYSE:TRLA) soared in its Wall Street debut, after pricing the shares above the proposed range in an initial public offering.
* Fuel distributor Susser Petroleum Partners Lp (NYSE:SUSP) ended 2 percent lower in its trading debut on Thursday, after pricing its initial public offering of 9.5 million common units at $20.50 each.
* Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR) fell 10 percent after Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) rolled out its own single-serve brewing machine.
* IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS) plunged 18 percent after the business information provider missed earnings expectations and cut its full-year earnings and revenue outlook.
* Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOR) bounced back on Thursday, a day after health insurer Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) said it would limit coverage of the company’s top-selling drug. Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOR) said it doesn’t expect the decision to have a material impact on the company’s business.
* Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said it has released a temporary fix to a security bug in Internet Explorer that had left millions of users exposed to cyber attacks.
* Taiwan-based liquid crystal display maker AU Optronics Corp. (ADR) (NYSE:AUO) (TPE:2409) was ordered to pay $500 million by a federal judge for colluding with rivals to fix the prices of LCD screens.
Hedge Fund News Update
* Aberdeen Asset Management expects further consolidation in the fund of hedge funds industry, with managers who have less than $3 billion in assets under management struggling to survive in the current environment of shrinking assets and rising costs, Reuters reported.
* George Soros and Carl Icahn are the highest ranked hedge fund managers on this year’s Forbes 400 ranking of the richest Americans.
* GAM has warned that the stimulus measure adopted by the central banks could stoke inflation, and the British fund manager is hedging with trades in fixed income and gold mining companies, Reuters reported.
* Trian Fund Management LP’s $2.2 billion Master Fund is unchanged this year through August, against a 14 percent gain in the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) Index, according to a Bloomberg report.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Thursday, September 20, 2012
* Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) was raised to “outperform” from “sector perform” by analysts at RBC Capital Markets with a target price of $40.
* American Water Works Co., Inc. (NYSE:AWK) was lifted to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Goldman Sachs with a target price of $42.
* Boston Properties, Inc. (NYSE:BXP) was upgraded to “hold” from “underweight” by analysts at KeyBanc.
* Dreamworks Animation Skg Inc (NASDAQ:DWA) was raised to “neutral” from “sell” by analysts at Janney Capital with a target price of $19.
* Health Care REIT, Inc. (NYSE:HCN) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at KeyBanc with a target price of $61.
* Keynote Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:KEYN) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Craig Hallum with a target price of $20.
* Owens Corning (NYSE:OC) was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Macquarie with a target price of $38.
* PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM) was lifted to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Compass Point.
* Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc (NYSE:PNK) was upgraded to “buy” from “outperform” by analysts at Credit Agricole with a target price of $14.70.
* Taubman Centers, Inc. (NYSE:TCO) was raised to “hold” from “underweight” by analysts at KeyBanc with a target price of $68.
* The Ryland Group, Inc. (NYSE:RYL) was lifted to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Compass Point.
* AllianceBernstein Holding LP (NYSE:AB) was cut to “underperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Bank of America.
* Clean Harbors Inc (NYSE:CLH) was lowered to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Robert W. Baird with a target price of $58.
* Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) was downgraded to “underperform” from “outperform” by analysts at Credit Agricole with a target price of $38.
* InterNAP Network Services (NASDAQ:INAP) was cut to “sector perform” from “outperform” by analysts at RBC Capital Markets with a target price of $8.
* Kenexa Corporation (NYSE:KNXA) was downgraded to “market perform” from “outperform” by analysts at Raymond James.
* Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) was lowered to “market perform” from “outperform” by analysts at Wells Fargo & Co.
* NV Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NVE) was cut by analysts at Goldman Sachs from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating.
* St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Mizuho with a target price of $45.
* United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X) was lowered to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Nomura with a target price of $20.