Top 10 News Items for 11/26 - 11/30: Lawmakers Still Split on Fiscal Cliff; Cohen's SAC Capital Under Fire; Knight Cap's Bidding War

November 30, 2012 5:06 PM EST
1. Lawmakers and officials on both sides of the aisles are still firing salvo over who should budge with the fiscal cliff rapidly approaching. Both House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama exchanged comments this week, the two even speaking on a phone call, with the only result as no result.

Lawmakers are likely to stall any result or outcome and use the next few weeks as a means for political positioning, issuing the same concession expectations over and over. With about $600 billion of spending cuts and tax hikes on the line, let's hope Washington gets it together in time.

U.S. markets largely ended the week higher, stemming from positive chatter early on.

2. Steven Cohen's SAC Capital felt the heat from the SEC this week, enough so to hold a brief conference call with investors. The firm was said to receive a Wells notice from the SEC this week, prompting the move.

One of Cohen's fund managers, Mathew Martoma, testified in from on a federal court this week, after having been accused of taking part in the largest insider trading scheme on record. For more color on the story, click here.

3. Knight Capital (NYSE: KCG) ended strong this week after holder GETCO offered to acquired the remaining stake it didn't already own for $3.50 per share. Following the fallout from a trading error in early August, GETCO could be getting Knight for a song, with Knight having traded in the $11.50 to $12.50 range just prior to that.

Investors are hoping that Virtus comes over the top with something so that at least a little value is salvaged.

For more on the GETCO bid, click here.

4. According to data from the U.S Department of Commerce, GDP rose by 2.7 percent in the third quarter, shy of the 2.8 percent expected on the Street. The number was up from growth of 2.0 percent in the second quarter.

Though the numbers are improving, some warn that the impending fiscal cliff and impact from Hurricane Sandy might cause more subdued growth in the fourth quarter. Higher than expected private inventories might also hit production, as businesses will require less to refresh stockpiles in the current quarter.

5. BP plc (NYSE: BP) was on a rollercoaster ride this week. Shares fell Wednesday after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it temporarily suspended the company from entering new contracts with the federal government. The EPA said it was taking the action " due to BP’s lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company's conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response, as reflected by the filing of a criminal information."

For more, click here.

6. On Monday night, Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) and AvalonBay Communities, Inc. (NYSE: AVB) entered an agreement with Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to acquire, for approximately $16 billion, the assets and liabilities of Archstone Enterprise LP.

The assets primarily consist of a portfolio of high-quality apartment properties in major markets in the United States.

7. According to reports out Tuesday, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) fired Richard Williamson, who was in charge of Apple's mapping application segment. Newly appointed SVP Eddy Cue got the nod to do the axing.

Apple fumbled through a rare misstep following the debut of its iPhone 5, after customers kept complaining that the pre-loaded mapping application wasn't up to snuff, with misplaced streets and folks getting lost as a result. CEO Tim Cook even issued an apology about the mishap.

8. Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) was hit Friday following guidance issued late Thursday. In part, Yum! hinted at slower sales in China through the fourth quarter, saying it would rely on International and U.S. sales to offset the softness.

For fiscal 2012, the company affirmed EPS growth of 13 percent and sees EPS growth slowing to 10 percent in fiscal 2013. For more on the numbers, click here.

9. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Mary Schapiro is expected to step down from the role within a month, according to reports on Monday.

Schapiro will depart on December 14th following speculation she might make the move soon after the election. Both the White House and Treasury Department were informed of the move by the SEC, becoming the first major appointment to leave the Obama administration.

10. Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is starting to look like a real company again, with news Thursday bolstering the sentiment. Closing at $28 on Friday, shares rose nearly 17 percent on the week and are at the thighest level since last July...about five months ago.

Yesterday, Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) and Facebook announced an amended agreement which started, in part, that Facebook would be free to develop its own gams if it saw fit and Zynga would be able to utilize other social media platforms for its games that aren't being promoted via the Facebook platform. For more on the amended agreement, click here.

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SAC Capital, Steven A. Cohen, Lehman Brothers, Top 10 News Items for the Week, Mary Schapiro, Barack Obama

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