Delta, United Cancel Flights, GM Beats Estimates: Weekly Market Recap

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to the top market moving headlines of the week:

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The markets were closed today.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) dropped about 1.32% to $85.14 per barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) dropping to $1,710.10 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) falling to $31.76.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Hurricane Sandy has forced the United States equity markets to close. The Securities and Exchange Commission reached an agreement with exchange regulators on Sunday night to close both the trading floor and electronic trading. Parts of New York City face mandatory evacuation and public transit is down, making it prohibitively difficult for traders and technicians to reach the floor. The decision was made to close electronic trading as well because of the massive complications involved with a partial closure.

Reports currently suggest that the markets will also be closed on Tuesday.

Already fighting with tough operational challenges, hurricane Sandy is beating on airline companies that are still trying to make a post-crisis turnaround. Between 6,800 and 9,000 flights have been cancelled because of the storm. Most notably, the three major airports in the New York metropolitan area — JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia – have cancelled all departures and arrivals.

Delta (NYSE:DAL) cancelled over 2,000 flights, while United Continental (NYSE:UAL) cancelled as much as 16 percent of its scheduled flights between Sunday and Wednesday.

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Major insurance companies, like so many of the customers they insure, are likely huddling and praying for minimal damage from the storm. Insurers like AIG Financial Products (NYSE:AIG), Allstate (NYSE:ALL), Travelers (NYSE:TRV), and others are at risk of taking significant stock hits as the result of investor unease surrounding the effects Sandy could have on the companies. Hurricane Katrina, for example, which ravaged the Gulf Coast area in 2005 and racked up $105 billion in damages and 1,833 deaths, sent Allstate shares falling from $58.27 per share to $54.53 per share in the month following the destruction.

Allstate has home owner’s insurance exposure of 13.8 percent to hurricane Sandy, and auto exposure of 15.5 percent. The Chubb Corporation (NYSE:CB) has 6.6 percent exposure for both its homeowners and commercial insurance units, and Travelers has 9.0 percent and 9.6 percent exposure in those respective categories.

All models of the iPad mini were sold out by early morning on Monday — three days into pre-orders — with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) online store announcing delayed shipping times for its brand new smaller tablet. All versions of the tablet, in both black and white and in capacities ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB, are now advertised to ship in two weeks. While the white model sold out in about 20 minutes after the start of pre-orders last Friday, some of the stock lasted until 3 a.m. on Monday.

Consumers in the U.S. increased their spending in September by the fastest rate since February and at twice the rate of incomes rising, a sign of confidence in the economy. The U.S. Commerce Department announced on Monday that consumer household purchases increased 0.8 percent in September, while personal incomes rose 0.4 percent. Spending had risen 0.5 percent in August.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, but since growth remains limited and unemployment is still at high levels, the U.S. Federal Reserve is maintaining its plan to buy bonds and keep interest rates low.

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The U.S. equity and bond markets were closed again on Tuesday due to what is now post-tropical storm Sandy. Traders will face a potentially volatile market on Wednesday as they look to re-position themselves and price their portfolios in the face of new earnings, Friday’s jobs numbers, and next week’s presidential election.

With Sandy burning itself out, Oil (NYSE:USO) ticked up 0.07 percent to $85.60 per barrel. Precious metals were up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing 0.09 percent to $1,710.20 per ounce and Silver (NYSE:SLV) climbing 0.22 percent to $31.81 per ounce at about when the markets would have closed, if they were open.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:Storm

Economic loss estimates for hurricane Sandy are coming in between $10 billion and $20 billion, while insured losses are estimated at $5 to $10 billion.

Ford (NYSE:F) released third-quarter 2012 earnings, posting record pre-tax operating profit of $2.2 billion, or $0.40 per share. This makes 13 consecutive quarters of pre-tax profits. The company lost $468 million in Europe on a revenue drop of about $2 billion compared to the quarter last year. General Motors (NYSE:GM) is expected to announce its third-quarter 2012 earnings on Wednesday.

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British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) released strong third-quarter 2012 earnings of $5.4 billion compared to a loss of $1.4 billion in the previous quarter. CEO Bob Dudley expects the supply infrastructure for gas and oil to bounce back quickly. Gas prices should be held mostly in check by temporarily decreased demand.

pirateApple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile software boss, Scott Forstall, will leave the company by the end of the year. It looks like the shakeup is due to a series of issues compounded by the recent maps fiasco.

An October 30 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices press release suggests that the housing market is continuing its long, slow path to recovery. The 10- and 20-City Composites increased by 0.9 percent in August compared to July, marking the seventh straight month of increases.

The 10-City Composite recorded an annual return of 1.3 percent, up 0.6 percent from the rate posted for July. The 20-City Composite recorded an annual return of 2 percent, in increase of 1.2 percent over the rate for the same period.

According to a recent National Retail Federation consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, a record 170 million people plan to celebrate Halloween. The study finds that 71.5 percent of Americans will get into the Halloween mood, compared to 68.6 percent last year. Consumers are also not afraid to spend more. The average American is estimated to spend $79.82 on decorations, costumes and candy, an increase from $72.31 in 2011. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $8 billion.

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Markets were mixed today on Wall Street:

S&P 500: +0.02%Nasdaq: -0.36%Dow: -0.08%Oil: +0.44%, Gold: +0.54%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $86.06 per barrel. Precious metals were up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,721.30 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) rising to $32.25.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:The Flash Crash breeds uncertainty.

Vringo (AMEX:VRNG), currently engaged in a patent lawsuit with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), tripped over a cliff and fell about 36 percent in afternoon trading. The steep sell off followed a ruling by a federal judge that limited the amount of damages Vringo could claim, ruling that the company could not seek damages for the six years prior to filing the lawsuit.

Shares of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) were halted after they rocketed up over 17 percent on news that Carl Icahn bought a 9.98 percent share in the company. Shares settled slightly to close at $79.24, a 13.88 percent gain. Netflix is now up over 42 percent for the month.

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In what is sure to generate a modicum of fan-based outrage, Disney (NYSE:DIS) will buy Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion. Lucas, of course, is the force behind “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” and the two franchises will be passed along with the company. Disney, for its part, has said there will be a new series of “Star Wars” movies starting in 2015. Shares of Disney closed down 1.92 percent.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) posted third-quarter 2012 earnings that came in at $0.85 per share, beating estimates by $0.25. Revenue did drop by 2.4 percent year over year to $37.6 billion, but still beat estimates by $1.9 billion. Shares closed up 9.66 percent. Read our GM earnings report.

Apparently hit with a string of bad luck, Knight Capital (NYSE:KCG), forced to run on generators because of hurricane Sandy, had a power outage on Wednesday afternoon. Shares initially took a dive as fears mounted of another technical error, but rebounded to close up 0.38 percent. Knight Capital directed clients to conduct trades elsewhere for the duration of the outage.

Generac (NYSE:GNRC), the manufacturer of power generators, closed up 20.01 percent because of demand sparked by hurricane Sandy and strong third-quarter 2012 earnings. Revenue was up 25.6 percent year over year to $300.5 million, while earnings per share came in at $0.78, beating estimates by $0.07. Highlights include a 48.3 percent jump in commercial and industrial product sales.

News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS)(NASDAQ:NWSA) will take over Australia’s Consolidated Media Holdings in a A$2 billion deal that will double the stake of the media conglomerate’s Australian arm in pay-TV operator Foxtel to 50 percent, and give it 100 percent of content provider Fox Sports. The deal increases News Corp.’s pay-TV exposure just as the company is cutting costs at its print operations.

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Markets closed up today on Wall Street:

S&P 500: +1.09%Nasdaq: +1.44%Dow: +1.04%Oil: +0.79%Gold: -0.25%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed to $86.92 per barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,714.70 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) falling to $32.26 per ounce a few minutes after the bell.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories: 

Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI) reported its results for the third quarter. Net income fell to $74.5 million (1 cent per share) vs. $104.2 million (2 cents per share) a year earlier. This is a decline of 28.5% from the year-earlier quarter. Revenue rose 13.7% to $867.4 million from the year-earlier quarter. Read our Sirius XM Radio earnings Cheat Sheet.

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Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP) closes up 14.18 percent on news that the company hired Blackstone to investigate a possible sell.

Consumer confidence is on the rise again. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose from 68.4 in September to 72.2 in October, its highest level this year. Chasing the good news, retailers across the board announced fairly strong October sales numbers.

Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) closes up 3.21 percent after posting a 3.3 percent increase in same-store sales, and a 4.6 percent increase in total sales for October.

Macy’s (NYSE:M) closes 6.46 percent higher after posting a 4.1 percent increase in same-store sales, and a 3.6 percent increase in total sales for the month.

It was a busy day for the auto industry, as Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), and Toyota (NYSE:TM) released their October sales numbers.

The U.S. Treasury warned that it was still on schedule to reach its debt limit close to the end of the year, even though it was taking measures that would allow it to continue borrowing funds through early 2013. It also plans to sell $72 billion in notes and bonds in next week’s refunding exercise. The Treasury was $235 billion below the $16.4 trillion debt limit as of Monday.

For the month of October, employment statistics were mixed. While the ADP National Employment Report revealed that new job creation increased throughout the month, record layoffs were reported for the same period.

Employers announced 47,724 planned layoffs last month, an increase of more than 40 percent over September’s 33,816 job cuts. The outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that layoffs were at the highest level since May. However, most of the planned cuts will take place in Europe. For example, Ford will be laying off 10,900 workers at plants in the United Kingdom and Belgium.

In comparison, the ADP National Employment Report showed that new job creation topped economists’ forecasts. According to the report, the United States labor market gained 158,000 jobs in October, far above the estimated 135,000.

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The markets gave up yesterday’s gains and closed down today on Wall Street:

S&P 500: -0.94%Nasdaq: -1.26%Dow: -1.05%, Gold: -2.20%Oil: -2.60%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) dropped to $84.83 per barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,676.90 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) falling to $30.91 per ounce.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) closed up 9.05 percent today after posting fourth-quarter earnings that came in at $0.46 per share, $0.01 above estimates. Revenue grew 11 percent year over year to a record $3.4 billion. Highlights include 7 percent comparable-store growth and a 1,200-store expansion plan for 2013.

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Chevron (NYSE:CVX) closed down 2.77 percent after posting third-quarter earnings that were fairly lackluster. Net income for the integrated oil-international fell to $5.3 billion ($2.69 per share) vs. $7.83 billion ($3.92 per share) a year earlier. This is a decline of 32.3% from the year-earlier quarter. Read our Chevron earnings Cheat Sheet.

Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES) closed up 1.41 percent after posting third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations. Net income rose to $557 million ($1.64 per share) vs. $298 million ($0.88 per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 86.9 percent from the year-earlier quarter. Read our Hess Corp. earnings Cheat Sheet.

In September, federal prosecutors sued Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), the largest home lender in the United States, for “reckless” and fraudulent mortgage practices that cost the Federal Housing Administration hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims when the loans defaulted. In a filing made on Thursday in federal court in Washington D.C., Wells Fargo made clear its intent to challenge the suit, contending that the case violates the conditions of the April settlement.

Android LogoThe Android smartphone operating system was launched four years ago and continues to gain market share over its rivals. In the third quarter, the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) developed OS was found on three out of every four smartphones shipped. According to International Data Corporation, a global provider of market intelligence and services for the technology field, total Android smartphone shipments worldwide hit 136 million units, representing 75 percent of the 181.1 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter.

In what could be a last-minute political gift for President Barack Obama, the U.S. Labor Department’s report on Friday showed that job growth accelerated in October to signal an economic recovery that was slow, but steady. Payrolls grew by a seasonally adjusted 171,000 jobs last month, though the unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey, rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent. The consensus prediction had been for an addition of 125,000 in payrolls and a 7.9 percent unemployment rate.

According to AAA, only 35 percent of gas stations tracked by the company on Long Island are operational. In New Jersey, AAA reports only 40 percent of gas stations tracked are operational. The New York Times is reporting lines of hundreds of cars waiting for gas in New Jersey, with supplies running out and pumps shutting down long before fuel needs are met.

Gas prices have been locked in place with Governor Chris Christie promising to prosecute anyone caught gouging. Prices in New Jersey had been set at $3.59 per gallon last week. Prices in New York are averaging nearly $4 per gallon. The nation-wide average is about $3.50 per gallon.

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