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: 13158.00 (0.77%), S&P 500: 1411.13 (0.65%), NASDAQ: 3069.79 (0.54%)
- Europe: CAC: 3433.21 (0.02%), DAX: 6971.07 (0.31%), FTSE: 5776.60 (0.00%).
- Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4349.00 (-0.79%), China: 2092.10 (-1.00%), Hong Kong: 19880.13 (-1.27%), India: 5386.70 (-0.53%), Japan: 9070.76 (-1.18%).
- Metals: Gold: 1672.90 (0.01%), Silver: 30.62 (0.54%), Copper: 3.48 (-0.26%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 96.15 (-0.12%), Natural Gas: 2.70 (-3.57%)
- Commodities: Corn: 8.08 (-0.77%), Soya Bean: 17.31 (0.96%), Wheat: 8.88 (-0.70%)
- Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2514 (0.43%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5807 (0.36%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 78.6750 (0.18%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 1.687% (0.009)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end higher: U.S. markets closed near the highs of the day on Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said there is further room for the central bank to act. The market jumped higher as traders reacted to a letter sent by Bernanke to the chairman of the House oversight committee, that said the central bank has more tools to support the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) rallied 100.51 points, or 0.77 percent, to close at 13,157.97. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 9.05 points, or 0.65 percent, to end at 1,411.13, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) gained 16.39 points, or 0.54 percent, to finish at 3,069.79. For the week, the Dow lost 0.88 percent, the S&P 500 erased 0.50 percent, and then NASDAQ fell 0.22 percent. The Dow and S&P 500 snapped a six-week winning streak.
Oil prices fall: Oil prices declined on Friday after industry journal Petroleum Economist said that the International Energy Agency is likely to tap strategic oil reserves as early as September. But downside was capped by the Tropical Storm Isaac threatening to disrupt production in the Gulf of Mexico. Crude oil for September delivery slid 0.1 percent, to settle at $96.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for October settlement fell 1.3 percent to $113.51 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
- Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) hit an all-time high of $246.87 on Friday as the company said it expanded a partnership with NBC Universal, and on speculation about a new version of its Kindle Fire tablet.
- Media and sports-entertainment company The Madison Square Garden Co (NASDAQ:MSG) reported fourth quarter net income of $28.6 million, or 37 cents per share, up from $8.5 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter grew 42 percent to $332.9 million. Analysts had forecast earnings of 22 cents per share, on revenue of $277.1 million.
- Sporting goods giant NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) jumped 1.5 percent higher after the company said it plans to continue to support cycling legend Lance Armstrong, even after the US Anti-Doping Agency stripped the seven-time Tour de France champion of his titles.
- Black Hills Corp (NYSE:BKH) closed 7.8 percent higher after it agreed to sell approximately 85 percent of its shale assets in the Williston Basin in North Dakota to QEP Resources for about $243 million in cash.
- Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK) suffered the worst drop within the S&P 500 Index after reporting second quarter earnings and revenue that missed Street estimates, after market close on Thursday.
- Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), the owner of the country’s biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, increased its quarterly dividend by 7.3 percent to 44 cents a share from 41 cents a share. The dividend will be paid on October 10 to shareholders of record on September 14.
- Golf-equipment maker Callaway Golf Co (NYSE:ELY) moved 6.6 percent lower after it said it entered into separate, privately-negotiated exchange agreements under which it will exchange nearly 1 million shares of convertible preferred stock into new debt.
- Computer networking company Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARUN) rallied 14.4 percent after it reported better than expected fourth quarter revenue, despite swinging to a quarterly loss
- Auto insurance software service provider Solera Holdings Inc (NYSE:SLH) fell 3.4 percent after providing lower than expected full-year guidance. The company reported fourth quarter adjusted earnings of 64 cents per share, on revenue of $198.4 million that topped Street estimates of adjusted earnings of 61 cents per share on revenue of $194.9 million. The company forecast full-year adjusted earnings of between $2.44 and $2.55 per share on $780 million to $788 million in revenue. Analysts were expecting $2.74 a share in adjusted earnings on revenue of $803 million.
- MICROS Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:MCRS), the provider of software for the hospitality industry, surged 7 percent after reporting better than expected earnings. Fourth quarter earnings excluding items came in at 68 cents per share, 8 cents above the average analysts’ estimate. Revenue jumped 10.4 percent to $302.5 million, in line with estimates. The Columbia-based company raised its full-year revenue guidance.
- Teen apparel retailer Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) ended 5.8 percent lower after announcing the resignation of chief financial officer and corporate secretary, Marc Solzman He will be replaced by Christopher Work, who joined the company in 2007.
- Chinese solar products maker ReneSola Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:SOL) reported second quarter loss of $34.8 million, or 40 cents per ADR, compared with a profit of $1.8 million, or 2 cents per ADR, in the year-ago quarter. Sales fell 6.5 percent to $233 million. Analysts had forecast a loss of 34 cents an ADR on revenue of $219.2 million. The company forecast current quarter revenue below Wall Street estimates.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., the largest shareholder of shopping mall operator, General Growth Properties Inc (NYSE:GGP), has squared off against Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, that wants the company’s board to consider a sale of the company.
- The number of hedge funds investing in emerging markets rose 3.5 percent in the second quarter, to reach a record high of 1,073, data from the latest HFR Emerging Markets Hedge Fund Industry Report showed. Total assets under management however declined 3 percent from the first quarter to $123.4 billion.
- Jeff Runnfeldt, the co-head of global equities at Chicago-based hedge fund firm Citadel Investment Group, will leave at the end of the month.
- Singapore-based hedge fund Tree Line Asia Master Fund offloaded over four hundred thousand shares of Vienna-based waste water treatment company, VA Tech Wabag Ltd (NSE:WABAG) through open market transactions.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Friday, August 24, 2012
- AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE:AN) was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Zacks with a target price of $48.
- American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) was lifted to “neutral” from “underperform” by analysts at Bank of America with a target price of $24.
- Black Hills Corp (NYSE:BKH) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Gabelli.
- Federated Investors Inc (NYSE:FII) was raised to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Citigroup Inc. with a target price of $25.
- Frontline Ltd. (USA) (NYSE:FRO) was lifted to “neutral” from “sell” by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
- Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES) was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Standpoint Research.
- Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Credit Suisse.
- Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL) was lifted to “neutral” from “sell” by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
- TCF Financial Corporation (NYSE:TCB) was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at BMO Capital Markets with a target price of $13.
- Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK) was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Bank of America with a target price of $32.
- Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) was lowered to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Northcoast Research.
- Bona Film Group Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:BONA) was cut to “neutral” from “overweight” by analysts at JPMorgan Chase.
- Bio-Reference Laboratories Inc (NASDAQ:BRLI) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at UBS AG with a target price of $28.
- Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR) was lowered to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Macquarie with a target price of $63.
- Golar LNG Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:GLNG) was cut to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at ABG Sundal Collier.
- Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Bank of America with a target price of $45.
- Scholastic Corp (NASDAQ:SCHL) was lowered to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Sterne Agee.
- Shoe Carnival, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCVL) was cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Sterne Agee.
- Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) was downgraded to “equal weight” from “overweight” by analysts at Morgan Stanley.
- Loews Corporation (NYSE:L) was lowered to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Zacks with a target price of $42.