Major Corporate & Economic Events, March 17 to March 18 THURSDAY, March 17 Extended-Hours Earnings: ATU, ANCI, CMRG, CATO, CPWM, DLIA, FDX, GSOL, MLHR, IHS, LDK, LORL, MNTX, NKE, PURE, ROST, SCVL, TWER, VVTV, WGO, WPCS. Economic Data: 8:30 a.m. Initial Claims; CPI; 9:15 a.m. Industrial Production; Capacity Utilization; 10 a.m. Leading Indicators; Philadelphia Fed. FRIDAY, March 18 Extended-Hours Earnings: None. Economic Data: None. ==============================
=== NYSE down 162.24 (-2%) to 7,929.87 DJIA down 242.12 (-2%) to 11,613 S&P 500 down 25 (-1.95%) to 1,257 Nasdaq down 50.51 (-1.9%) to 2,617 GLOBAL SENTIMENT Hang Seng up 0.1% Nikkei up 5.7% FTSE down 0.87% DOWNSIDE MOVERS ORCC downgrade follows disappointing earnings, terminated combination exploration. YRCW misses restructuring goal. AAPL downgraded. PSUN continued evening loss that followed disappointing results, guidance. IBM downgraded. NFLX gave up early gain; eyeing deal for distributing original TV content. CBLI remains active gainer post-quake; developing radiation drug. ERIC said Japan quake won't impact sales. UPSIDE MOVERS LVS downgraded. ULU filed to expand Altrazeal label claim. RMBS continued evening gain that followed renewd patent agreement. NVDA continued evening decline that followed CFO resignation. MARKET DIRECTION Stock averages close down, including a 240-point drop for the Dow and enough of a decline for the Nasdaq and S&P to land them in negative territory for 2011. Japan's nuclear uncertainty intensified. Tech stocks fell after key downgrades for Apple (AAPL) and IBM (IBM). Lingering worries about Japan's nuclear situation -- though the Nikkei did rebound today -- a downgrade for Portugal debt, continued Middle East unrest and a slide for U.S. housing starts combined to send Wall Street south Wednesday. Tech giants Apple (AAPL) and IBM (IBM) were both down over 3% late after downgrades and are dragging on the broader tech space. In the latest report out of Japan to rattle markets, the U.S. government said citizens within 50 miles of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plants were told to evacuate or remain indoors, according to media reports. Gold edges higher but settles below $1,400 an ounce. April crude oil ends up 0.8% at $97.98 a barrel. Guenther Oettinger, the European Union's energy commissioner, roiled financial markets anew when news reports cited his comments on Japan's post-quake nuclear situation. Oettinger reportedly told a European Parliament committee that Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is "effectively out of control" and that there could be further "catastrophic events" in the coming hours. In Japan today, the Nikkei Stock Average rose 5.7%, recouping some of the 16% it has lost in the past two days. The Bank of Japan injected more liquidity into the market. Earlier in the day, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Portuguese government debt, bringing it in line with S&P's rating. European markets closed lower. On the U.S. economic front, reports showed stronger-than-expected producer-level inflation due to food costs but an in-line result of 0.2% when food and energy are excluded. A sharp drop in February housing starts is keeping bulls at bay. The data shows the hot-and-cold nature of the economic recovery. The Federal Reserve's mildly optimistic post- meeting statement cheered Wall Street Tuesday. U.S. wholesale prices jumped a seasonally adjusted 1.6% in February as food costs experienced the biggest one-month rise since 1974, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Core producer prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy categories, rose a smaller 0.2%. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted a 0.7 % increase in overall producer prices and a 0.2% increase in the core rate. New construction of U.S. houses and apartments plunged in February, erasing a sharp gain in the prior month, the Commerce Department estimated Wednesday. Starts fell 22.5% in February to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 annualized units, much weaker than the 570,000 pace expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. Goldman Sachs (GS) Bloomberg reported that the bank has agreed to buy Benchmark Asset Management, which is India's largest provider of index- tracking funds. The move comes as Goldman--which had set up its own mutual fund unit in 2008--did not oversee any assets in India at the end of the year, the report said. Shares of Morton's Restaurant Group Inc. (MRT) said it may sell the company as part of an effort to enhance shareholder value. The Chicago- based company's two largest shareholders, affiliates of Castle Harlan Inc. and Laurel Crown Partners LLC, authorized the exploration. Shares of Netflix (NFLX) aThe Wall Street Journal reported that the company is in advanced talks to distribute a television series that will star Kevin Spacey, according to people familiar with the talks. The series is reportedly for a political drama called "House of Cards." Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) Bloomberg reports that the generic drug maker agreed with an Astrellas Pharma subsidiary to settle a pending patent-infringement lawsuit for the Tarceva lung cancer drug. Pfizer (PFE) and Genentech were also a part of the suit. First American Financial (FAF) says its Board approved a new stock repurchase plan, which authorizes the repurchase of up to $150 million of the company's common stock. It also declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.06 per common share. The cash dividend is payable on April 15 to stockholders of record as of March 31. Cephalon (CEPH) asked a federal judge to block the sale by a competitor of a generic version of its drug Fentora, alleging it is potentially dangerous, Bloomberg reported. Cephalon sued the federal government in Washington, looking to revoke the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the generic version. Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT) cut its Q1 earnings guidance this morning as poor weather and unrest in the Middle East weighs on the oil and gas service company. It suspended full-year guidance because of the upheaval, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, according to the AP. The company is now guiding for earnings of 18 cents per share, compared with a Q1 estimate of 27 cents a share in January. Analysts are looking for 23 cents per share, according to FactSet consensus poll. Principal accounting officer Charles Geer, will leave the company at the end of the week, the company said. A search is underway for Geer's replacement. Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (PSUN) Q4 swing to a loss and weak Q1 guidance. Beacon Power (BCOND) reports Q4 revenue of $370,000, up from $303,000 in the year ago quarter. Loss for the quarter was $0.29 per share, down from a year ago loss of $0.31 per share. The single analyst estimate on Thomson Reuters was for revenue of $1 mln and a loss of $0.35 per share.