Market Musings with CNBC Market Master Robert Hum
Recap: Dow -33.49 (-0.23%) at 14,526.16, S&P -0.92 (-0.06%) at 1,562.85, Nasdaq 4.04 ( 0.12%) at 3,256.52.
After slumping early on more European concerns, stocks recover and ended just off highs of day on light volume. S&P 500 fails to hit a record again, 2 points away from its all-time closing high. Dow set for 4th straight month of gains while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are up 5 months in a row.
1 more day in the quarter: QTD - Dow up 10.9%, S&P 500 up 9.6%, Nasdaq up 7.9%
Euro hits 4-month low vs. dollar, while natural gas hit an 18-month high.
- Bankruptcy judge rejects $19.9 million severance package for AMR CEO.
- Chevron cutting CEO compensation due to safety issues.
- AIG new pay program for 2013 includes claw-backs.
- Red Hat beats estimates, but stock down; gives disappointing guidance on conference call.
- Pinnacle prices IPO at $20, high end of range.
The Word on the Street
Holy Thursday! Will Cyprus Mess Up the Market?/CNBC: "Buckle up. Thursday could be a rough day in the market with banks in Cyprus finally opening their doors after shuttering them for more than a week. The headlines and pictures on TV could be scary. Security officers are expected to be out in full force as the nation of Cyprus prepares for confusion and chaos as people try to get their money. It's entirely possible that there could be rioting and a run on banks. As a result, Jim Cramer said it's reasonable to expect pandemonium in global markets; "that is to expect the euro to break down again, the Italian and Spanish bond markets to get hammered and all of the bourses in Europe to slump at least two to three percent. However, even if it appears that the sky is falling in Cyprus, don't run away from the US stock market. If anything Cramer thinks the overseas mayhem will generate opportunity here at home."
Blackstone Is Open to Keeping Michael Dell as CEO/WSJ: "Blackstone Group is open to keeping Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell as chief executive under its plan to gain control of the computer maker, people familiar with the matter said. The private-equity firm is competing against an offer from Mr. Dell and private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners to take the company private. Hedge-fund investor Carl Icahn also made a proposal for Dell late last week, and a special committee of Dell shareholders is reviewing the offers.
Pentagon Cuts Number of Furlough Days/AP: Defense officials say the Pentagon will sharply cut the number of unpaid furlough days civilians will have to take in the next several months from 22 to 14, reducing the financial impact of the budget cuts on as many as 700,000 workers. Officials say Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision Wednesday. Military and defense leaders continue to work through the details, trying to decide how to allocate the more than $10 billion Congress shifted to operations accounts. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Initially, civilians would have had to take one day off each week for 22."
JOBS Act Sputters on IPOs/WSJ: "The so-called JOBS Act is yet to deliver a big boost to initial public offerings.The one-year-old law, officially the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, was aimed at helping companies with less than $1 billion in sales go public. But IPOs of such companies in the year since the law was enacted are on track to fall 21%, to 63 from 80 in the year prior, according to Jay Ritter, a University of Florida professor who tracks IPOs. The law, which passed with bipartisan support, grants certain perks to smaller companies going public, including relaxed financial reporting and accounting standards. Several factors, including a sluggish economy, Facebook Inc.'s botched market debut and Washington's fiscal uncertainty, have helped chill the climate for IPOs over the past year."
Divers Caught Cutting Internet Cable to Egypt/AP: "Egypt's naval forces captured three scuba divers who were trying to cut an undersea Internet cable in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, a military spokesman said. Telecommunications executives meanwhile blamed a week long Internet slowdown on damage caused to another cable by a ship. Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said in a statement on his official Facebook page that divers were arrested while "cutting the undersea cable" of the country's main communications company, Telecom Egypt. The statement said they were caught on a speeding fishing boat just off the port city of Alexandria. The statement was accompanied by a photo showing three young men, apparently Egyptian, staring up at the camera in what looks like an inflatable launch. It did not further have details on who they were or why they would have wanted to cut a cable. Egypt's Internet services have been disrupted since March 22. Telecom Egypt executive manager Mohammed el-Nawawi told the private TV network CBC that the damage was caused by a ship, and there would be a full recovery on Thursday."
Hedge Fund Titan Buys Hamptons Property for $60 Million/NY Times: "Steven A. Cohen is known for his rapid-fire trading style, moving in and out of stocks with dizzying speed at his hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. He seems to be taking a similar approach to his real estate. Mr. Cohen reached a deal last week to pay $60 million for an oceanfront property on Further Lane in East Hampton, on Long Island, according to a person with direct knowledge of the sale. The home, which was only listed for sale late last week, is down the road from one that he already owns. At the same time, he has put on the market his duplex apartment in the Bloomberg Tower on the east side of Manhattan. this person said. His asking price: $115 million. News of Mr. Cohen's real estate activity surfaced a day after reports that he purchased Picasso's "Le Rve" for $155 million from the casino owner Stephen A. Wynn. The acquisition is one of the priciest private art deals ever completed. Meanwhile, he has quietly offered up other works from his vast collection up for sale, according to several dealers. Mr. Cohen's conspicuous consumption comes amid continuing scrutiny of his business practices. SAC is at the center of the government's broad investigation into insider trading at hedge funds. Earlier this month, Mr. Cohen, 56, signed off on two settlements in which the fund agreed to pay federal securities regulators a $616 million penalty to resolve accusations of illegal conduct at SAC. "