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US Home Construction Accelerates
US Home Construction Accelerates

The Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that construction on new U.S. homes accelerated by 15% during September to an annual rate of 872,000. The increase marks the highest level seen in more than four years. Building permits, which is a sign of future demand, also rose to a four-year high, rising 11.6% to an annual rate of 894,000. Building permits for single-family homes, which account for nearly three-quarters of the housing market, rose 6.7% to an annual rate of 545,000 in September. Building permits for multi-dwelling units which is a more volatile category, rose three times faster. Housing starts in August were revised up to 758,000 from an original reading of 750,000. Building permits in August were revised slightly lower to an 801,000 annual rate. During September, housing starts rose in all regions except the Northeast, with construction improving in regions in the West and South.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), aka 'Big Blue', shares experienced one of their worst recent performances, down 5% at the end of trading on Wednesday. IBM reported fiscal Q3 earning $3.82 billion or $3.33 a share, on revenue of $24.75 billion. During the same period in 2011, earnings came in at $3.84 billion or $3.19 a share on $26.15 billion in sales. Excluding one-time items like expenses for retirees, IBM would have earned $3.62 a share. IBM has missed revenue forecasts for five consecutive quarters. Recommendations remain in effect for investors to take advantage of any weakness in share price of the icon on Wall Street.

CME Group Inc. (CME) on Wednesday reported they will pay $126 million in cash for the Kansas City Board of Trade. The Chicago market operations is recognized as the leading futures market for hard red winter wheat. CME Group reportedly will pay a special distribution of excess cash to members of the Kansas City Board of Trade although the specific amount was not announced. "This transaction creates significant value for customers and shareholders of both companies," the CME said.

Cymer Inc. (CYMI) shares were sharply higher by 50% into late afternoon trading Wednesday after the maker of semiconductor lithography equipment agreed to a buyout deal with ASML Holding (ASML). The cash-and-stock transaction is valued at nearly 1.95 billion euros or about $2.5 billion. The deal gives Cymer shareholders a premium of nearly 61% over the companies 30-day volume-weighted average price. Cymer and ASML Holding specialize in extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) which is used to create smaller, more energy efficient chip products. The deal requires approval from regulators as well as Cymer shareholders and is expected to close during the first half of 2013.

Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) shares were lower by 22% into the end of the trading session on Wednesday after the for-profit education provider was hit by downgrades from several equities analysts following a weak earnings report. Citing declining enrollment numbers, Apollo announced late Tuesday that its fiscal Q4 profit fell 60% from 2011. Apollo also trimmed its full-year revenue outlook to $3.65 billion from $3.8 billion, less than the $4.07 billion analysts were anticipating. The weak results and lowered outlook overshadowed steep cost cuts Apollo is putting in place.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, voted 5-0 to float the roughly 500-page set of proposals for public comment, as required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law. The law mandates greater oversight of previously unregulated swaps market. The rules require brokerages to set aside specific money to insulate themselves against losses on their swaps trades as well as to take steps to protect the money of their swaps customers. Before the rules could be implemented, the SEC will have to vote on them, for a second time. The rules basically mirror related proposals floated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and banking regulators to impose capital and margin standards on swaps dealers. SEC officials said there are technical differences to reflect distinctions in the market or the types of firms to which the various rules apply. Unlike banks that deal in swaps, brokerages overseen by the SEC do not have access to deposits. As a result, its rules place "heavy importance" on requiring the brokerages to hold as capital "liquid assets that are readily available in times of crisis," said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro. The SEC's proposal would apply to firms dealing in so-called securities-based swaps, including credit-default swaps that led the government to bailout the insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG) in 2008. The SEC rules would mandate that all securities-based swaps dealers post at least $20 million of capital, plus an additional 8% of the total margin they are required to post for each individual transaction. The SEC is increasing the capital that the largest brokerage firms must post to $1 billion from $500 million, in addition to the swaps rules. While the banking regulators and CFTC floated their original capital and margin proposals last year, they recently reopened their respective comment periods The move was partly in light of an international report earlier this summer that recommended standardized margin requirements of between 2% and 15% of individual trades.


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Oct 17, 2012


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