What’s the Story?

by CC April 10, 2012 9:18 am • Commentary


Stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday as S&P 500 futures found support near their 50-day moving average following four days of losses on the benchmark index.

Investors also got some respite from trade data from China that reinforced the view the world’s second-largest economy will avoid a hard landing.


If you were hoping for Ben Bernanke to sprinkle some “QE3” magic fairy dust on the markets last night, your wish was not granted.

In a speech in Atlanta, the Fed chairman steered clear of economic conditions and forecasts and instead focused on how additional regulatory action may be needed to safeguard the money-market mutual-fund industry.

In the aftermath of a downbeat monthly jobs report, many investors were hoping Bernanke would say something – anything — to soothe the markets. Instead, they’ll have to wait longer to see how the central bank will play its cards.


Alcoa Inc. (AA) added 0.9 percent as it becomes the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to report quarterly results. Dell Inc. (DELL) advanced 1.7 percent after the personal computer maker said it is teaming up with Lockheed Martin Corp. to pursue the U.S. government’s biggest information technology contract. American International Group Inc. rose 2.2 percent after the insurer was raised at Wells Fargo & Co.


France’s economy posted no growth in the first quarter and there are no signs of a strong recovery in activity in the coming months, according to a Bank of France survey on Tuesday.

In its monthly report, the Bank of France indicated that the euro zone’s second largest economy avoided a recession, after it grew by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

However, it said that activity was likely to remain stable in the coming months, a picture confirmed by soft manufacturing data on Tuesday from the INSEE national statistics office.

The Bank of France said that its business sentiment indicator for industry was unchanged in March at 95, a 3-month low it reached in February.


Vivus  – The Food and Drug Administration will take three more months to make an approval decision for the company’s obesity drug Qnexa. That delay may also weigh on shares of Arena Pharmaceuticals  and Orexigen , which have competing obesity treatments in the pipeline.

Toll Brothers, PulteGroup – Goldman Sachs is recommending clients buy shares of the two high-end homebuilders, after an internal survey showed wealthier consumers more confident about the economy and home prices versus six months ago.

Harley-Davidson  – Citi has upgraded the motorcycle maker’s stock to “buy” from “neutral,” saying its dealer checks show solid sales momentum.

Supervalu  – The grocery store operator earned 38 cents a share for its fourth quarter, excuding certain items, three cents above estimates. It also projects fiscal 2013 EPS of $1.27 – $1.42 per share, above estimates of $1.19.

Corning , Becton Dickinson  – Corning is buying a majority stake in Becton’s Discovery Labware unit for $730 million in cash. The unit specializes in drug discovery technology.

X-Rite  – The maker of color-measurement systems is being bought by Danaher for $5.55 a share, 39 percent above Monday’s closing price for X-Rite.

YPF  – Reports out of Spain say China’s CNOOC  may seek to buy YPF, Argentina’s biggest energy producer, for $30 a share.

Google  – UBS has increased its price target for Google to $825 from $800, saying it’s seeing momentum in Google’s product listing ads.

Valero Energy  – The stock has been added to “Top Picks Live” at Citi, which sees Valero benefiting from discounted crude prices at Gulf Coast refineries.

TE Connectivity  – The former Tyco Electronics is selling its touch solutions business to private-equity firm Gores Group for $380 million.

Yahoo – The company will hold an all-hands staff meeting today, following the layoff of 2,000 employees last week.

Transocean  – CEO Steven Newman’s 2011 compensation was up 57 percent in 2011 to $9.9 million, despite a 45 percent drop in Transocean’s stock.

Sony  – The company says it will likely report a record $6.4 billion loss for the just-ended fiscal year, which is double earlier forecasts. That news comes a day after reports that it planned to cut 10,000 jobs, or 6 percent of its global workforce.

Verizon Communications, AT&T  and Sprint Nextel  – Leading wireless carriers plan to create a mobile phone database to help prevent theft and reactivation of lost or stolen devices.

Chesapeake Energy  – The natural gas company has agreed to sell 58,400 acres of Oklahoma assets to Exxon Mobil  for $590 million.

Affymax  – The drug maker has received a $50 million payment from partner Takeda Pharmaceutical, following FDA approval of the anemia drug Omontys.