Every afternoon (and morning) we provide an update on global market levels, company news, economic news, and hedge fund news. Highlights for October 17th 2012 below:

Market Levels

  • US:  Dow: 13557.00 (0.04%), S&P 500: 1460.91 (0.41%), NASDAQ: 3104.12 (0.10%)
  • Europe: CAC: 3527.50 (0.75%), DAX: 7394.55 (0.25%), FTSE: 5910.91 (0.68%).
  • Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4528.20 (0.82%), China: 2105.62 (0.32%), Hong Kong: 21416.64 (0.98%), India: 5660.25 (0.22%), Japan: 8806.55 (1.20%).
  • Metals: Gold: 1751.20 (0.28%), Silver: 33.23 (0.82%), Copper: 3.71 (0.26%)
  • Energy: Crude Oil: 92.03 (-0.07%), Natural Gas: 3.48 (1.25%)
  • Commodities: Corn: 7.45 (0.98%), Soya Bean: 15.09 (1.04%), Wheat: 8.56 (1.00%)
  • Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.3119 (0.01%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.6148 (-0.01%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 78.9400 (-0.04%)
  • 10 year US Treasury: 1.818% (0.100)


Market and Economy News Update

U.S. markets end flat: U.S. markets closed largely unchanged on Wednesday as a strong housing report was offset by some tepid earnings reports from technology bellwethers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) eked out a gain of 5.22 points, or 0.04 percent, to close at 13,557.00. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 5.99 points, or 0.41 percent, to finish at 1,460.91, while the NASDAQComposite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 2.95 points, or 0.10 percent, to end at 3,104.12.
Oil holds above $92: U.S. crude prices were little changed for the session but managed to stay above the $92-mark on Wednesday. Energy Information Administration’s weekly report showed crude stocks rose 2.86 million barrels last week, more than consensus expectations for a rise of 1.7 million barrels. Crude oil for November delivery added 0.1 percent, to settle at $92.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for December settlement fell 0.7 percent to $113.16 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Stocks in Focus

  • American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) said third quarter earnings rose to $1.09 a share from $1.03 per share in the year-ago period. Revenue for the period increased 4 percent to $7.86 billion from $7.57 billion a year ago. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.09 a share on $7.90 billion in revenue.
  • eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) reported third-quarter earnings excluding items of 55 cents per share, one cent above the average analysts’ estimate. Revenue came in at $3.40 billion, trailing Street expectations of $3.41 billion. The company provided fourth-quarter guidance that was in-line with estimates.
  • Student lender SLM Corp (NASDAQ:SLM) posted third quarter adjusted profit of 58 cents per share, 4 cents above Street estimates. Net-interest income for the period fell to $819 million from $885 million, a year earlier.
  • Tech company Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ:XLNX) posted second quarter net income of $123.4 million, or 46 cents a share, down from $126.3 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue for the period stood at $543.9 million. Analysts had projected earnings of 41 cents a share on revenue of $547.7 million
  • Medical device firm Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) reported third quarter adjusted earnings of 97 cents a share, on revenue of $2.1 billion. Analysts had forecast earnings of 98 cents a share on revenue of $2.1 billion.
  • Semiconductor equipment maker Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX) reported first quarter adjusted earnings of 53 cents a share that easily beat estimates of 41 cents a share. Revenue increased to $906.89 million, from $680.44 million, a year earlier, also topping expectations for $902.88 million.
  • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR) jumped 6.3 percent after the coffee retailer disclosed that it has hired Gerard Geoffrion, currently head of its business in Canada, to lead the international development of its business.
  • Homebuilders, Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL) and KB Home (NYSE:KBH) closed significantly higher after a  strong September housing starts report.
  • Vitamin retailers Vitamin Shoppe Inc (NYSE:VSI) and GNC Holdings Inc (NYSE:GNC) rose in trade today after a new study said multivitamins modestly lowered the risk of cancer in Men.
  • Piper Jaffray Companies (NYSE:PJC) ended 7.3 percent higher after the asset manager swung to a third-quarter profit from a loss in the year-ago period.
  • Health insurer Centene Corp (NYSE:CNC) soared 11 percent after it said it will end an unprofitable Medicaid contract in Kentucky.
  • CME Group Inc (NASDAQ:CME), the world’s largest futures exchange agreed to buy the Kansas City Board of Trade for $126 million in cash.
  • BP plc  (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP) closed 2.9 percent higher after the oil giant said it’s nearing a deal to sell its stake in TNK-BP to a Russian state oil company Rosneft.
  • Cree, Inc. (NASDAQ:CREE) climbed 10 percent after reporting fiscal first quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 27 cents a share that topped estimates of 26 cents a share.
  • Equipment rental company United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE:URI) soared 15 percent after reporting third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.35 a share, well above the average analysts’ estimate of $1.13 a share.

Hedge Fund News Update

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued New Jersey-based hedge fund Yorkville Advisors LLC and two of its executives over an alleged scheme to overvalue assets under management and exaggerate the firm’s reported returns.
  • Greg Coffey, co-chief investment officer of Moore Capital Management LLC’s European business, is leaving the $15 billion hedge fund run by Louis Moore Bacon and plans to retire from the industry, according to a Reuters report.
  • New York-based SkyBridge Capital LLC is planning to increase investments in Asia, Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of the hedge fund of funds, told Bloomberg News.
  • Bob Jolly, Schroders’ head of global macro, has acquired short positions across a range of German government bonds because he believes yields could rise irrespective of whether the euro zone resolves its debt crisis or not, according to a Reuters report.

Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Wednesday, October 17, 2012

  • Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NYSE:NLY) was lifted to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Compass Point with a target price of $17.
  • ADTRAN, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADTN) was upgraded to “neutral” from “sell” by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
  • BancFirst Corporation (NASDAQ:BANF) was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Raymond James.
  • Brown & Brown, Inc. (NYSE:BRO) was lifted to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.
  • Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) was upgraded to “outperform” from “underperform” by analysts at Credit Agricole with a target price of $43.
  • Camden Property Trust (NYSE:CPT) was raised to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $76.
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHRW) was lifted to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at FBR Capital with a target price of $69.
  • Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR) was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Raymond James.
  • Essex Property Trust Inc (NYSE:ESS) was raised to “strong buy” from “outperform” by analysts at Raymond James.
  • Fortinet, Inc. (NASDAQ:FTNT) was lifted to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Wunderlich with a target price of $28.
  • Mid America Apartment Communities Inc (NYSE:MAA) was upgraded to “strong buy” from “outperform” by analysts at Raymond James.
  • Old Republic International Corporation (NYSE:ORI) was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Raymond James.
  • Pinnacle Financial Partners (NASDAQ:PNFP) was lifted to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Raymond James.
  • Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) was upgraded
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