Herbalife’s Fight, GM’s Bulls, and the Eleventh Hour: Market Recap

This Monday, the U.S. equity markets continued a Friday slump catalyzed by gridlock and uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff debate. The markets are closed tomorrow for the Christmas holiday and will open for trading on Wednesday, ahead of the scheduled return of policymakers to Washington on Thursday.

At the close: DJIA: -0.39%, S&P 500: -0.24%, Nasdaq: -0.28%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) edged down 0.02 percent to $88.64 per barrel. Precious metals also edged down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling 0.08 percent to $1,658.70 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) falling 1 percent to $29.90 per ounce at about 1:15 PM.

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

At $27.66 per share, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is bumping along less than a dollar shy of its 52-week high of $27.91. The big news that came in the middle of last week was a $5.5 billion buyback of 200 million shares from the U.S. Department of the Treasury at $27.50 per share, coupled with the government’s announcement to fully exit its entire holding of GM stock within 12 to 15 months. The good news has apparently woken up some bulls at Goldman Sachs… (Read more.)

One of the best battles of 2012 is taking place at the end of the year, which makes it seem like a main event. Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) has had a nice run over the past few years, but those years will likely end up being remembered as glory days. In other words, they won’t happen again. The battle is Bill Ackman of Persuing Capital Management vs. CEO Michael Johnson of Herbalife… (Read more.)

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Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) closed up 1.77 percent following news news that an investigation by the Shanghai Food and Drug administration turned up acceptable levels of antibiotics and steroids in KFC chicken, but a suspicious level of an antiviral drug banned for use in food. The investigation was launched after the state-run China Central Television reported that KFC chicken contained high levels of antibiotics. China accounts for nearly half of Yum! Brands’ revenue

Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) closed up 2.55 percent after receiving a boost from analysts at Needham & Co., who raised their price target on the stock from $25 to $33. Full-year 2013 revenue estimates were increased from $6.27 billion to $6.5 billion, with earnings revised from $0.59 per share to $0.65 per share.

Is an 11th-Hour Solution All That’s Left? Lawmakers left a heavy air of uncertainty behind them in Washington this week. Just a handful of days remain until the new year, when the fiscal cliff triggers and automatic austerity measures and tax increases begin taking affect. The result, as predicted by the Congressional Budget Office, business leaders, and economists could be renewed recession for the first-half of fiscal 2013… (Read more.)

Lenders Voice Concerns About Greek Tax Crisis: Greece’s 240-billion-euro ($317.2 billion) international bailout package came with a number of strings attached. In order to receive the funding necessary to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund and European Union finance ministers developed a long list of austerity measures and financial reform that the Greek government has been obligated to implement. High on the list is tax reform, and lenders have a reason to believe Greece isn’t cracking down hard enough… (Read more.)

Investing Insights: Is Herbalife Nearing Its Death?