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MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia - 24/12/2012

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(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Continued concerns that the U.S. will not come to an agreement on budget measures to avert the "fiscal cliff" caused widespread losses on Wall Street last Friday.

The Dow closed down 120 points to 13,190, the Nasdaq was lower by 29 points to 3,021, and the S&P 500 lost 13 points to 1,430.

The House Republicans' "Plan B" tax bill, which includes raising taxes on those with incomes of 1 million or above, failed to draw enough GOP support after a closed door meeting on Thursday evening and the vote was cancelled.

The fiscal cliff refers to the more than 600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect at the start of the new year unless Democrats and Republicans can reach a budget compromise.

Economists and investors alike fear another recession is inevitable if a deal cannot be reached.

The House plans to return December 27 in the event there is some deal to consider.

On the economic front Friday, spending was up 0.4% in November, after a 0.2% decline in October, as personal income grew 0.6%, stronger than the 0.4% forecast, after coming in flat the previous month.

In corporate news, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) (TSE:RIM) reported a third quarter loss of 22 cents - smaller than the expected loss of 35 cents per share, with revenues pretty much in line with estimates.

But shares in the BlackBerry maker plummeted almost 19% Friday as it reported a drop in subscriber rolls for the first time in its history and said it planned to change its service revenue model, which concerned investors.

Shares of the company, which enjoyed a brief jump after third quarter results were released late Thursday, began their decline after a conference call in which CEO Thorsten Heins said the company would offer "tiers" of pricing with respect to RIM's service access fee.

The access fee is an important source of revenue for the company and comes from carriers around the world who must pay a per-device fee to access RIM's proprietary messaging network.

Analysts are concerned that the tiered pricing could lead to a decline in revenues.

Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) said this morning that its first quarter profit fell , booking a charge related to an accounting measure for its investment in Alliance Boots as sales also fell. Results lagged analyst estimates, with shares of the pharma chain falling 4% Friday.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) said it has settled a patent dispute with RIM, which gives it a one time payment during the fourth quarter as well as ongoing fees. The payment amount was not disclosed.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) second quarter profit topped Street views, with revenues in line with estimates. Gross margins fell again for the eighth straight quarter, but its forecast was upbeat.

Micron (NASDAQ:MU) shares were down more than 7% as it lost 27 cents per share for its first quarter, a wider loss than analysts had anticipated. Revenue also fell short as the chipmaker saw slowing PC sales amid economic uncertainty.

Meanwhile, shares in Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) rose 4% Friday as profit met analyst estimates, and revenues topped views.

Elsewhere, Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) shares leapt up 27% Friday after the company said it entered into a collaboration and license deal with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). '

In other news Friday, President Barack Obama formally nominated Senator John Kerry for the position of secretary of state.


Gold futures ended higher Friday on safe haven appeal, rising 14.20 to settle at 1,660.10 an ounce. The yellow metal was down 2.2% for the week, however, as markets were earlier optimistic about reaching a fiscal cliff deal.

Crude oil for February delivery fell after House Republicans abruptly cancelled the vote on a tax bill, lately down 1.4 to 88.73 a barrel.


European markets finished lower today with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX was down 0.47% while Britain's FTSE 100 was off 0.31% and France's CAC 40 was lower by 0.15%.


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