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Jan 4, 2013

DealBook P.M. Edition ( January 4, 2013).: After Decades of Public Service, Judge Jones Joins Zuckerman Spaeder.



Friday, January 4, 2013
TOP STORY
After Decades of Public Service, Judge Jones Joins Zuckerman Spaeder Barbara S. Jones, the federal judge in Manhattan and former prosecutor, is stepping down from the bench to join the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder. In an interview, Ms. Jones said that her last day as judge was on Friday and that she would start at Zuckerman Spaeder later this month. She presided over a wide range of cases, including the 2005 trial of Bernard J. Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, and the Justice Department's civil lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard, finding that the credit card companies violated the antitrust laws.
  • DEALBOOK »
  •  
  • DEALBOOK HIGHLIGHTS
    More European Bank Loan Sales Expected Europe's largest financial institutions, including HSBC and Deutsche Bank, are expected to sell a combined $78 billion of so-called noncore loans this year, a 33 percent rise compared with 2012, estimates from PricewaterhouseCoopers show.
    S.E.C. Ends Scrutiny of Former Top Aide to Buffett The Securities and Exchange Commission has decided not to file insider trading charges against David L. Sokol, a onetime top lieutenant at Berkshire Hathaway and aide to Warren E. Buffett, according to Mr. Sokol's lawyer, Barry Wm. Levine.
    Seeing Opportunity, WPP Adds to Its Investments in Latin America Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the British advertising giant WPP, says he sees growth prospects in Latin America. The firm has taken a 20 percent stake in an information technology services company based in Argentina.
    LOOKING AHEAD
    Wells Fargo on Friday will be the first of the big banks to report fourth-quarter earnings. On Thursday, Herbalife will hold a conference call to address accusations made by investor William Ackman. 
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  • Quotation of the Day
    "I've always been awed by the power and responsibility the comes with being a judge and don't expect to have that ever again."We're still very enthusiast about our meat portofolio, but we have been making a very deliberate effort to become a bigger player in general packaged foods."
    Barbara S. Jones, a federal judge in Manhattan who is stepping down to join the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder.
      

NYT | Politics (January 4, 2013).: Congress Passes $9.7 Billion in Relief for Hurricane Sandy Victims

The New York Times

January 4, 2013

Politics

Congress Passes $9.7 Billion in Relief for Hurricane Sandy Victims

The measure passed the House 354 to 67, and then passed the Senate by unanimous consent. It now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, gathered Democratic women of the House before the opening of the 113th Congress on Thursday in Washington.

Day of Records and Firsts as 113th Congress Opens

The first day of the 113th Congress brought a new diversity to the Capitol, including a record number of women and various firsts for the numbers of Latinos and Asians.

More Politics

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker John A. Boehner after leadership elections for the 113th Congress. Some Republicans deserted Mr. Boehner.

Liked but Not Feared, Boehner Keeps a Job Some Might Ask Why He Wants

Although no one rose up to challenge him, 12 Republicans rejected Speaker John A. Boehner's leadership, a warning of further challenges ahead.
Some House members kept a tally of protest votes against Speaker John A. Boehner during the leadership vote on Thursday. Mr. Boehner won narrowly.

Boehner Retains Speaker's Post, but Dissidents Nip at His Heels

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio was re-elected speaker of the House amid open dissent from conservatives that suggested the last Congress's turmoil would live on.
The Caucus

Chief Justice Roberts to Preside at Obama's Swearing-In

Mr. Obama gets to choose who swears him in as president, and once again he chose Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Caucus

The Mahogany Boxes Hold No Surprises From the Electoral College

A joint session of Congress certified the results of November's presidential election Friday, declaring President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winners with 332 electoral votes.

A Changing of the Guard Among Veterans in Congress

The 113th Congress welcomes the largest wave of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since those wars began more than a decade ago, but the number of veterans joining Congress continued a four-decade long slide.

Barney Frank Seeks Short Stint in Senate

Barney Frank would like to be appointed as an interim senator to fill John Kerry's seat until a special election later this year.
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The Debt Reckoning

This feature follows the talks between President Obama and Congressional leaders over the so-called fiscal cliff.
FiveThirtyEight

Were the G.O.P. Votes Against Boehner a Historic Rejection?

Twelve House Republicans did not vote for John A. Boehner's re-election as speaker. Is that really so bad? Judging by recent history, it is.

Multimedia

Video: The 113th Congress Begins
TimesCast Politics: Speaker John A. Boehner faces down his caucus. | The delay of a Hurricane Sandy relief bill sets off a revolt.
Video: House Passes Fiscal Legislation
The Times's Michael D. Shear talks about the deal that averted spending cuts and tax increases for most Americans.
Graphic: Impact of the Tax Deal
How the bill passed by Congress on Tuesday is estimated to change taxes at each income level, on top of the effects of the expiring payroll tax cut and new taxes from the health care law.

MarketWatch | Wall Street at Close report (January 4, 2013).: U.S. stocks close at highest level since 2007

By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch)U.S. stocks rose on Friday and posted strong weekly gains, with the S&P 500 index closing at a five-year high, after Congress passed crucial budget legislation and data showed the economy is continuing to add jobs at a moderate pace.

The S&P 500 SPX +0.49%  climbed 7.10 points, or 0.5%, to 1,466.47, its highest closing level since Dec. 31, 2007.

The benchmark rose 4.6% for the week, its largest one-week percentage gain since the week ending Dec. 2, 2011.

“We had a huge rally on news of the fiscal-cliff resolution,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. 



Getty Images Enlarge Image
Applicants register for a jobs fair in Manhattan. December’s payrolls expanded by 155,000.
“Today’s jobs report was a focus point that came in almost right on expectations,” he said. 

Before the market opened, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 155,000 in December and the jobless rate stood at 7.8%. See: U.S. economy creates 155,000 jobs in December. 
 
Economists polled by MarketWatch expected an increase of 160,000 jobs. See charts breaking down 2012’s jobs data. 



November’s unemployment rate, originally reported as 7.7%, was changed to 7.8% after the annual revisions conducted each December. 

A separate report showed that service-sector growth accelerated in December, with the Institute for Supply Management’s services-sector index rising to 56.1% from 54.7% in November. 

Around 651 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Composite volume topped 3.4 billion.
Financials and materials were the biggest gainers and information technology the biggest weight among the S&P 500’s 10 major sectors. 

The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index COMP +0.04%  gained 1.09 points, or 0.04%, to 3,101.66, with shares of iPhone maker Apple Inc. AAPL -0.24%  down 2.8%. See: Apple, Microsoft pressure tech. 
 
For the week, the Nasdaq Composite gained 4.8%.The Consumer Electronics Show will take place in Las Vegas next week, with developments in TV sets and smaller tablet and PC-hybrid devices expected to be in the spotlight. Read MarketWatch’s preview of CES. 

 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.33%  rose 43.85 points, or 0.3%, to 13,435.21, with only six of its 30 components in negative territory. 


Analysis: December jobless picture WSJ's Rolfe Winkler, Sudeep Reddy and Phil Izzo analyze December's unemployment numbers. 

Alcoa Inc. AA +2.09%  rallied 2.1%, making it the top gainer in the Dow, with the aluminum producer due to report fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, marking the unofficial start of corporate earnings-reporting season. See: Tech, bank forecasts slashed in run-up to earnings. 
 
“The focus is going to be on corporate earnings,” Luschini said. ”If companies are reporting numbers that match or exceed expectations, then that will invite investors that have been sidelined because of the paralysis over the fiscal cliff” back into the market.

n a dramatic, 11th-hour vote, Congress passed budget legislation Tuesday that averted the fiscal cliff, at least in the short term, by rasing taxes only on a small portion of the wealthiest Americans and extending unemployment benefits. The fact that any legislation was approved at all — given the partisan divisions in Washington — triggered a huge relief rally on Wall Street. 

The budget deal, however, largely bypassed the issue of spending cuts, setting up another political fight in a few weeks. In addition to spending, Congress and President Barack Obama must reach a compromise on the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. 

Europe's week ahead: All eyes on ECB With U.S. fiscal-cliff concerns in abeyance, all eyes will be on the European Central Bank and whether it cuts rates given the current weakness in the euro-zone economy. U.K. retailers also will be in the firing line. 

But many retirement savers face their own fiscal cliff. Read more about how delays and indecision are bad for your financial health. 
 
U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, breaking a two-session winning streak, after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December policy meeting showed officials see an end to the central bank’s bond-buying program in 2013. 

The Fed minutes hit gold futures hard, since the precious metal has been a big beneficiary from quantitative easing. 

The February gold contract GCG3 -1.09%  slumped $25.70 to $1,648.90 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“The gold market is clearly signaling the concern of the end of the liquidity [provided by the Fed],” Luschini noted. 

Among individual stock moves, Eli Lilly & Co. LLY +3.70%  shares rallied 3.7% after the drug company said it expects profit to rise in 2013 and reaffirmed its commitment to fund its dividend at least at the current level. 

Shares of exchange operator CME Group Inc. CME +4.29%  surged 4.3%. Avon Products Inc. AVP +3.21%  rose 3.2% after the cosmetics maker was upgraded to buy from neutral at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Citigroup Inc. C +2.51%  gained 2.5% after the bank was upgraded by Goldman Sachs to a conviction list-buy rating, citing 18% upside.

“We believe [Citigroup’s] shares are mispriced given the company’s earnings power,” Goldman analysts wrote in a research report. See: Citigroup and SunTrust gain after Goldman calls. 
 
Polya Lesova is MarketWatch's New York deputy bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter @PolyaLesova.

Money Show Investors Daily Alert (January 4, 2013).: Due Diligence Is Key for New ETFs

Investors Daily Alert


The Daily Guru

No-Nonsense Investing

Jim Jubak on MoneyShow.com

Today's Top Pros' Top Picks

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Ideas from Around the World

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Gravity in the Equities Market, Keith McCullough

BIV Today's Business News(January 4, 2013).: Vancouver home sales fell 23% in 2012: real estate board



Real Estate and Development

Home for sale

Vancouver home sales fell 23% in 2012: real estate board

Home sales in the Greater Vancouver declined nearly 23% in 2012, according to ... READ MORE

Mining and Energy

 

LNG plant, refinery and terminal proposed for Kitsault, northeast B.C.

Kitsault Resorts Ltd. plans to announce at a January 8 press conference a proposal to establish ... READ MORE

Law

 

BC Place roof costs lawsuit gets sticky over grease stains

A BC Supreme Court filing by a lawyer for Canam Group indicates BC Place stadium's grease-stained roof ... READ MORE

More News...

   

Canadian unemployment hits four-year low; B.C.’s remains even lower: StatsCan

Canadian companies expect to hire, increase salaries in 2013

Catalyst Paper receives TSX listing approval

NYT | Opinion Today (January 4, 2013).: Latitude The Art of Blasphemy

The New York Times

January 4, 2013

Opinion Today

Opinionator

Better, if Not Cheaper, Care

It's a myth that a majority of our health care spending goes to the final year of life.
Op-Ed Contributors

How to Talk to Iran

For nuclear talks with Iran, President Obama should learn two Persian words: maslahat and aberu.
Beginnings
Opinionator

Beginnings

A 2013 wish list, for Congress, the NFL and certain individuals far too self-regarding to mention here.
Op-Ed Contributor

The New Tell-All Fed

The best playbook for the economy right now may not be to stimulate it, but rather to avoid surprising it.
The Future of Venezuela
Room for Debate

The Future of Venezuela

What sorts of social, economic and foreign relations issues must Venezuela's next president confront in order to guarantee a smooth transition?
Prince John Recaptures Galveston
Opinionator | Disunion

Prince John Recaptures Galveston

The Confederate victory on the Gulf of Mexico coast was the high-water mark for the rebellion in Texas.
The Art of Blasphemy
Latitude

The Art of Blasphemy

Political extremism is stifling art in Pakistan, denying the country one of its greatest sources of progressivism.
ADVERTISEMENT
Editorial

Penn State: Lessons Not Learned

Gov. Tom Corbett took a misguided step when he sued the N.C.A.A. for the sanctions it imposed on Penn State.
Editorial

Misplaced Secrecy on Targeted Killings

A federal court ruling denies access to information involving the killing of an American citizen. The public has the right to know.
Editorial

Al Jazeera in America

Doubts about the independence of Al Jazeera do not justify removing it from cable and satellite systems.

The Opinion Pages

Read the full opinion report, including editorials, columns, op-eds and Opinionator. Go to the Section »
Taking Note

Having It Both Ways

Does the fiscal cliff deal increase or reduce the deficit? It depends on whom you ask.
A Populism Worthy of the Name
Evaluations

A Populism Worthy of the Name

Erick Erickson's new agenda and the future of right-wing populism.
A Month's Worth of Links for New Year
Mark Bittman Blog

A Month's Worth of Links for New Year

Some farming, health and GMO news to usher you into 2013.
Bluefin Tuna Poised for New Record Sale in Tokyo Auction, More Pressure at Sea
Dot Earth Blog

Bluefin Tuna Poised for New Record Sale in Tokyo Auction, More Pressure at Sea

The next update on the status of coveted Pacific bluefin tuna is nigh.

Money Show Traders Daily Alert (January 4, 2013).: A Trifecta of January Seasonal Indicators

Traders Daily Alert


Tips for Traders

Options Idea

Charts in Play

Currency Corner

Trading Idea of the Day
Are We Seeing Gold's Last Hurrah?, Przemyslaw Radomski

Today's Featured Videos & Exclusive Interviews

ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin (January 4, 2013).


ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin
Daily world financial news Friday, 04 January 2013


London Market Report
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Stocks rally after US data

    Market Movers
    techMARK 2,173.83 +0.77%
    FTSE 100 6,089.84 +0.70%
    FTSE 250 12,694.90 +0.34%
London’s stock market started 2013 strongly in the aftermath of the fiscal cliff deal in the US on New Year’s Day, with the FTSE 100 gaining 192.5 points over the first three trading sessions of the year.

Equities on Friday were helped by some better-than-expected economic figures Stateside, which bolstered the outlook for the world’s largest economy. The FTSE 100 finished up 0.7% on the day at 6,090; it has not closed higher than this level since May 2008.

After a subdued start on markets this morning - owing to the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting released last night - the Footsie rallied after American non-farm payrolls increased by 155,000 in December, ahead of the 152,000 consensus estimate. Meanwhile, gains were cemented this afternoon after the US ISM service-sector purchasing managers’ index rose from 54.7 to 56.1, surprising analysts who had expected a slight fall to 54.2.

Investors seemed to shrug off the news that the UK services PMI fell to 48.9 last month, after a reading of 50.2 in November. Consensus forecasts for no change.

The minutes of the December Federal Open Market Committee knocked market sentiment early on this morning. While they showed a clear majority in favour of further asset purchases (the third round of quantitative easing, or QE3), members were divided on the timing of these purchases

“Indecision between members pointed to a split between those who believe QE is a necessary ongoing task, and those who believe it is proving ineffective,” explained research analyst Joshua Mahony from Alpari.
FTSE 100: BP gains after Transocean settlement
Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean has reached a $1.4bn settlement with the US Department of Justice, causing shares in operator BP to rise in London. Transocean, the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, agreed yesterday to plead guilty to one misdemeanour violation of the Clean Water Act for "negligent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico".

Nevertheless, the wider resource sector was under the weather, with Fresnillo, Randgold, Petrofac and Polymetal all registering losses. Fresnillo was the heaviest faller after UBS cut its recommendation for the shares to 'neutral'. Analyst Chris Lichtenheldt noted that the stock currently trades at 1.26 times net asset value and 18.7 times 2013 cash flow, 48% and 44% higher than the North American peer group, respectively.

Sector peer Anglo American was also in the red after agreeing to sell its 70% interest in the Amapá iron ore mine in Brazil. The terms of the deal with Zamin Ferrous are confidential and subject to state regulatory approval, but the company said it was expected to complete in 2013.

High Street retailer Marks & Spencer fell after Nomura lowered its full-year (ending March 2013) profit before tax forecast from £694m to £666m, based on recent Kanta market data.

Real estate investment trust Hammerson was dampened by Credit Suisse after the broker downgraded its rating for the stock to 'neutral'.

Power systems giant Rolls-Royce rose after revealing that it is to provide repair and support services for aircraft engines operated by the US Marine Corps and Air Force as part of a contract worth $52.2m.
FTSE 250: Bank of Georgia up after Numis boost
Bank of Georgia Holdings was among the best performers after Numis initiated its rating on the stock at 'buy', with a target of 1,453p.

Balfour Beatty, the global infrastructure group, was also on the up after it announced that it has been awarded a five-year highway maintenance contract by Wiltshire Council worth £150m.

As on the top tier index, miners were registering the biggest falls, tracking metal prices lower. Hochschild, Petropavlovsk, Bumi and Lonmin all took a hit.

AIM/Small Cap Report
FTSE 100 - Risers
BP (BP.) 453.50p +2.67%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 721.00p +2.41%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,290.00p +2.30%
Schroders (SDR) 1,802.00p +2.21%
BT Group (BT.A) 242.80p +1.89%
Experian (EXPN) 1,033.00p +1.77%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 160.05p +1.68%
Standard Life (SL.) 352.10p +1.65%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,174.50p +1.62%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,147.00p +1.37%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,975.00p -4.09%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,810.00p -3.98%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,174.00p -3.69%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 376.40p -3.09%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,343.00p -1.97%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 811.50p -1.76%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,613.00p -1.24%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,335.00p -1.18%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,275.00p -1.09%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 741.50p -1.00%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Chemring Group (CHG) 264.10p +4.14%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 380.80p +3.73%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,140.00p +3.64%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 304.10p +3.61%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 201.10p +3.50%
Laird (LRD) 222.10p +3.49%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 690.00p +2.99%
Senior (SNR) 214.20p +2.88%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 72.05p +2.56%
RPS Group (RPS) 215.90p +2.52%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Petropavlovsk (POG) 359.30p -4.21%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 473.30p -3.72%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 381.30p -3.08%
Fenner (FENR) 425.00p -2.34%
Bumi (BUMI) 268.70p -2.29%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,130.00p -1.99%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 34.30p -1.94%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 96.00p -1.94%
Betfair Group (BET) 670.50p -1.90%
Lonmin (LMI) 290.80p -1.89%

Europe Market Report
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Stocks edge higher on US jobs

FTSE-100: 0.70%
Dax-30: 0.26%
Cac-40: 0.24%
FTSE-Mibtel 30: 0.30%
Ibex 35: 0.39%
Stoxx 600: 0.35%
The main European equity benchmarks ended on a high note Friday after the US revealed the creation of more jobs.  The Labor Department said payrolls rose by 155,000 workers last month, calming investors’ nerves and bringing global stocks higher.

The unemployment rate stayed at 7.8% after the November figure was revised up from a previously reported 7.7%.

The news followed the release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes on the $85bn monthly bond-purchase program.

Policy makers seemed divided over how long the program should last. Some put forward the possibility of halting its current bond repurchase program towards the middle of the year.

Spain taps pension fund
Spanish authorities have been employing the state’s pension reserve fund as a last ditch buyer of sovereign bonds, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The move raises questions over the role of the Social Security Reserve Fund as a guarantor of future pension payouts, the newspaper said.

Spanish debt has been paid by at least 90% of the €65bn fund, according to official figures, and the government is now taking out cash for emergency payments.

It comes as Spain tackles a prolonged economic crisis.
Euro zone inflation unchanged
Euro zone inflation remained unchanged at 2.2% in the year to December, according Eurostat statistics.  The inflation across the 17 European Union countries holds just above the European Central Bank’s (ECB) target of keeping the annual rate of price rises under 2%.

The ECB will make its monthly decision regarding interest rates and wider monetary policy next week.
Ortac Resources lifts market
Ortac Resources lifted 22.82% to a mid of 0.635p, showing a trend of major gold companies, according to broker Seymour Pierce.

Investors were focusing on the potential of gold production from the Šturec Gold Deposit in Slovakia where the results of the pre-feasibility are due this quarter.

BMW said its US December sales rose 34.8% to 43,855 vehicles. The German automobile manufacturer’s shares were up 0.90% to €50.34.

Bankia, the lender that received the largest Spanish bailout, was the highest gain on the Stoxx 600 as it rose 20% to €49.5.

Daimler´s US unit unveiled sales in December which came to a total of 31,372 vehicles, up 12% from the same month last year.
Euro climbs against dollar
The euro/dollar rose modestly at 0.02% to the 1.3051 dollar mark. Front month Brent crude futures remained off by 1.145 dollars to the 110.87 dollar level.


US Market Report
Stocks Seeing Modest Strength On Upbeat Economic Data

While buying interest remains somewhat subdued, stocks are seeing modest strength in mid-day trading on Friday. The markets are benefiting from a positive reaction to some relatively upbeat economic data.

The major averages have moved to the upside in recent trading, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow is up 29.76 points or 0.2 percent at 13,421.12, the Nasdaq is up 3.85 points or 0.1 percent at 3,104.42 and the S&P 500 is up 5.07 points or 0.4 percent at 1,464.44.

The modest strength on Wall Street comes following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing that U.S. employment increased in line with economist estimates in the month of December.

The report showed that non-farm payroll employment increased by 155,000 jobs in December following an upwardly revised increase of 161,000 jobs in November.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 155,000 jobs compared to the addition of 146,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate came in at 7.8 percent in December, unchanged from the previous month's revised figure.

A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed that economic activity in the U.S. service sector unexpectedly expanded at a faster rate in December.

The ISM said its non-manufacturing index climbed to 56.1 in December from 54.7 in November, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the service sector. The increase surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to 54.5.

With the unexpected increase, the non-manufacturing index rose to its highest level since reaching 57.3 in February of 2012.

However, traders seem somewhat reluctant to continue buying stocks after the rally that was seen earlier in the week lifted the major averages to their best levels in over two months.

Traders also continue to digest yesterday's release of the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which suggested that the central bank could end its quantitative easing program earlier than anticipated.

Sector News

While many of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, considerable strength has emerged among networking stocks. The NYSE Arca Networking Index has surged up by 2.2 percent to an eight-month intraday high.

Acme Packet (APKT) and Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) are turning in two of the networking sector's best performances, jumping by 11 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively.

healthcare provider stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Provider Index up by 1.8 percent. With the gain, the index has risen to a record intraday high.

Transportation and energy stocks also seeing significant strength in mid-day trading, while gold stocks have come under pressure amid a sharp drop by the price of the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 2.8 percent in its first trading day of the new year, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside over the course of the session. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing continued weakness, extending the sharp downward move seen in recent sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, has risen by 3.6 basis points to 1.935 percent.


Broker tips
Fresnillo, RBS, M&S
Shares in precious metals miner Fresnillo were hammered on Friday morning on the back of a downgrade by UBS from 'buy' to 'neutral' after the stock's recent strength.

Since September 10th 2012, Fresnillo has gained 7% while silver prices have fallen 9%. This compares with the average fall for silver stocks (under UBS's coverage) of 2%.

Analyst Chris Lichtenheldt notes that the stock currently trades at 1.26 times net asset value and 18.7 times 2013 cash flow, 48% and 44% higher than the North American peer group, respectively.

While an upcoming LIBOR settlement at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) may just be a drop in the ocean compared with last year's PPI redress, Investec has retained its 'sell' recommendation on the stock.

Analyst Ian Gordon said: "In 2013-15e, we see a return to profit with a modest improvement in core profitability (despite an offset from EC-mandated business disposals). However, with a very weak outlook for RoE [return on equity], we remain sellers."

Nomura has lowered its forecasts for High Street retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) ahead of the group's third-quarter trading update, but has retained its 'buy' rating and 420p target for the stock.

"In our view, M&S is changing trading stance from one driven by market share (and often promotion), to a more full-price-oriented approach. In our view, this will result in difficult quarters in top-line terms, but over time could help deliver a significant margin opportunity relative to peers."