Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 07.22.14

Argentina asks U.S. judge to put debt payment order on hold (Reuters)
Argentina asked a U.S. judge on Monday to put on hold an order requiring it to pay bondholders who did not participate in debt restructurings following the country’s 2002 default, while it seeks a “global resolution.” Ahead of a July 30 deadline to reach a deal or face a new default, Argentina filed papers asking a New York federal judge to stay a ruling that it pay the holdout investors $1.33 billion plus interest. Argentina, which has been in settlement talks, said any deal must take into account other bondholders and factor in a clause in its restructured bonds that could open it up to further liability. “As those risks remain, so does the necessity and appropriateness of a stay,” Argentina’s lawyers wrote.

Money Manager Foiled By Bad Bets (WSJ)
A former Olympic fencer who was one of the few hedge-fund managers to predict the financial crisis is floundering in more placid markets. Balestra Capital Partners LP, founded by Wall Street veteran James Melcher, saw investors yank more than $600 million—or more than 60% of its assets—at the end of the second quarter, according to investor documents. New York-based Balestra’s investments were down more than 14% for this year through the end of June, the documents show. The 74-year-old Mr. Melcher, who competed for the U.S. in fencing at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, is an extreme example of the pain being inflicted on many of Wall Street’s so-called macro traders. Many of those traders, who bet on global economic trends, including wagers that make money when markets fall, have been negatively affected by low interest rates and damped volatility across many of the markets in which they operate.

Wall Street Adapts to New Regulatory Regime (WSJ)
Four years after the Dodd-Frank financial law became reality, Washington’s regulatory machine is altering Wall Street in fundamental ways. Banks are selling off profitable business lines, pulling back from the short-term funding market, cutting ties with businesses that could attract extra regulatory scrutiny, and building up defenses to help weather future crises. While profits are up as firms slash costs and reduce funds set aside to cover future losses, their traditional profit engine—trading—is showing signs of weakening as banks step away from some activity amid regulatory pressure.

Fantex Completes Second Football Player I.P.O., Though Demand Is Slack (Dealbook)
Shares linked to the future income of [E.J. Manuel, a 24-year-old quarterback with the Buffalo Bills] Manuel started trading on Monday on an exchange operated by Fantex, a Silicon Valley start-up that helps athletes raise money through public offerings of stock. The firm previously sold shares linked to Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers. The offering of 523,700 shares received a significant amount of support from Fantex itself. Unable to sell all of the Manuel stock to investors, the company stepped in to buy 250,000 shares, or 48 percent of the total amount offered, according to Buck French, the chief executive. This level of support was expected, Mr. French said. Despite the slack demand, the stock was trading higher in its debut on Monday. After opening for trading at $10 at noon, the shares were up 15 percent in early afternoon trading.

Fox’s Time Warner bid could hit $105 a share (NYP)
…according to Moody’s Investors Service, which in a report Monday laid out a scenario where Fox could offer $105 per share for Time Warner without jeopardizing its credit rating. That’s $20 more per share than Time Warner turned down from Rupert Murdoch’s company earlier this month. Moody’s scenario also boosts the deal’s cash component to $35.34 billion, up from $28.88 billion in Fox’s initial proposal. The beauty of Moody’s analysis, however, is Fox’s not having to break the bank to reel in Time Warner. In fact, the credit rating agency projected a Fox-Time Warner combo could return to Fox’s coveted leverage ratio — 3.0 times debt to Ebitda — inside of 18 months.

Soros Chart Shows Euro-Yen Reaching 2008 High (Bloomberg)
The euro will surge to a six-year high against the yen by the end of 2014 as the European Central Bank isn’t printing money as fast as the Bank of Japan, according to Daiwa Securities Co…Japanese traders and investors refer to this gauge as a “Soros Chart,” after billionaire investor George Soros correctly predicted in the 1990s that the yen would weaken because of Japan’s burgeoning money supply. Also tracked are the euro, which recently traded at 137 yen, up 46 percent since July 2012, and the slowing inflation rate in the 18 nations sharing the common currency.

Angry husband sends wife Excel spreadsheet detailing sex-starved month (NYDN)
A woman’s fed-up husband sent her an Excel spreadsheet listing every time she shot down his attempts to have sex over the past month, including her excuses, according to a Reddit post. The user throwwwwaway29 posted the doc to the site on Friday along with a plea for advice, Deadspin reported. “Yesterday morning, while in a taxi on the way to the airport, Husband sends a message to my work email which is connected to my phone,” the woman wrote. “I open it up, and it’s a sarcastic diatribe basically saying he won’t miss me for the 10 days I’m gone,” she said. The spurned hubby’s rundown showed the couple had only had sex three times since June 3, despite 27 tries on his part to get frisky. One column listed the wife’s apparent excuses, including protests that she felt “gross,” was too busy watching TV or ate too much. The successful rolls in the hay were marked with an italicized “Yes.” The beleaguered wife called the dry-spell “a temporary slow-down due to extenuating circumstances.” Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.21.14

Barclays Dark Pool Drew Early Alarms (WSJ)
Trading firms and employees raised concerns about high-speed traders at Barclays PLC’s dark pool months before the New York attorney general alleged in June that the firm lied to clients about the extent of predatory trading activity on the electronic trading venue, according to people familiar with the firms. Some big trading outfits noticed their orders weren’t getting the best treatment on the dark pool, said people familiar with the trading. The firms began to grow concerned that the poor results resulted from high-frequency trading, the people said. In response, at least two firms—RBC Capital Markets and T. Rowe Price Group Inc.—boosted the minimum number of shares they would trade on the dark pool, letting them dodge high-speed traders, who often trade in small chunks of 100 or 200 shares, the people said. Meanwhile, a number of Barclays employees privately expressed concerns to top stock-trading executives that the firm was giving high-frequency traders too much access to its dark pool without fully informing clients, according to people familiar with the complaints. Investment firms worry that high-speed traders can detect their orders in dark pools and trade elsewhere using the information, moving the price against the companies.

Barclays Dark Pool Volume Fell 66% Week After Lawsuit (Bloomberg)
About 66 million U.S. shares were traded in the dark pool in the week of June 30, down 66 percent from about 197 million in the previous week, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulation Authority. The drop follows a 37 percent decline from 312 million in the previous week, data show. Barclays lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders as it sought to boost revenue at one of Wall Street’s largest private trading venues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a complaint filed June 25. Barclays Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins, in a memo to staff, said the lawsuit represents “serious charges that allege a grave failure to live up to our values.”

U.K. Prosecutors Open Foreign-Exchange Rigging Investigation (Bloomberg)
U.K. prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into alleged manipulation of foreign-exchange benchmarks. “The Serious Fraud Office has today opened a criminal investigation into allegations of fraudulent conduct in the foreign exchange market,” the London-based agency said in an e-mailed statement today. Authorities around the world have been investigating whether traders rigged the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market after the Financial Conduct Authority, the British markets regulator, began a review last year. Regulators and prosecutors are scrutinizing allegations that dealers at the world’s biggest banks traded ahead of their clients and colluded to rig the WM/Reuters rate, a benchmark that pension funds and money managers use to determine what they pay for foreign currencies.

Australia Regulator Censures Royal Bank of Scotland (WSJ)
Australia’s securities regulator has censured Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC after the bank found some of its traders likely tried to influence the daily setting of the country’s benchmark interbank lending rate. As a result, an independent compliance expert will review the bank’s record with rules on contributions to interest-rate benchmark settings and will report back to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the regulator said. RBS also agreed to steps including a review of its communications-surveillance systems and giving refresher training to traders.

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West pay $500,000 for baby body double: report (NYDN)
British glossy magazine Grazia claims the couple held “auditions” in Los Angeles at a specialist agency to find a child who is the spitting image of North, according to The Mirror. The magazine also reports that the couple hired a body double nanny. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.18.14

Buffett buys new Cadillac (AP)
Buffett sent his daughter, Susie Buffett, to the dealership to make the purchase. Warren Buffett says the saleswoman did a great job, including recommending that Buffett buy the XTS sedan he picked, not the CTS coupe that Barra had recommended.

Lawsky proposes new Bitcoin rules (NYP)
The proposed rules are the first step in companies obtaining a “BitLicense,” which would pave the way for a regulated exchange of the crypto-currency. The DFS started looking into new bitcoin exchanges for New York after the Japanese digital currency exchange Mt. Gox imploded earlier this year, apparently from hackers stealing $460 million in investor funds. The rules include anti-money laundering provisions that would include the identities and addresses of people trading the currency, as well as receipts for trades totaling more than $10,000 per day.

Ackman says Valeant’s bid for Allergan is a ‘happy’ one (NYP)
Ackman said Thursday he is trying to line up 45 percent of shareholders to call a special meeting to replace six directors — although he only needs 25 percent — because of what he called Allergan’s “unbelievably burdensome” requirements.

Morgan Stanley rebuilds in commodities trading (Reuters)
The Wall Street bank plans to hire about a dozen traders, sales staff and other professionals in the United States. It’s building up commodities trading and financing businesses that can profit despite tougher regulations, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A Case That Shows The Limits Of Insider Trading Laws (NYT)
In an unusual move, the judge in the case, Naomi Reice Buchwald, didn’t let most of the case get to the jury. After showing skepticism about the strength of the government’s case almost from the beginning, she dismissed two insider trading counts, leaving only a conspiracy charge for the jury to ponder. But conspiracy to do what? It’s no wonder a jury took less than four hours to find Mr. Rajaratnam innocent…Which raises a question: How might the jury have decided if it was allowed to consider all the evidence? The answer goes far beyond the Rengan Rajaratnam case, and raises some fundamental questions about the state of insider trading laws.

Shark Bites Off More Than It Can Chew, Chokes On Sea Lion (HP)
In a peculiar event that is almost too odd to seem true, a 13-foot great white shark in Australia died after choking on a sea lion. This video of a shark thrashing in shallow waters on Coronation Beach near Geraldton, Western Australia surfaced the day before the same shark washed ashore. “This could explain why the shark was exhibiting such unusual behavior in shallow waters off Coronation Beach. It is possible that the shark was trying to dislodge the blockage,” Dr McAuley, the principal research scientist who investigated the case, said in a Department of Fisheries press release. To make things even more interesting, this shark was also tagged in Southern Australia back in January, proving the incredibly mobile nature of the species. The Department of Fisheries in Western Australia concluded that the sea lion either damaged the shark’s internal organs, or the shark simply became stranded while trying to “get rid of the obstruction.” Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.16.14

S&P Weighs Restarting Talks on U.S. Suit (WSJ)
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, after more than a year of fighting a crisis-era lawsuit, is willing to reopen discussions with the Justice Department to settle the case, according to people familiar with the matter. The company isn’t in active talks with the Justice Department and no deal is imminent, these people said. And while no penalties have been discussed, negotiations would likely focus on a range of several hundred million dollars to around $1 billion, these people said. The firm also doesn’t want to admit wrongdoing, the people said, fearing such an admission would leave it vulnerable to further litigation. However, it is unclear whether the Justice Department would accept such terms. The government had previously demanded more than $1 billion before talks broke down. It then filed a lawsuit in February 2013 seeking $5 billion. S&P’s apparent strategy shift is in part tied to a new general counsel taking over at S&P’s parent company, McGraw Hill Financial Inc. The company also has generally grown more willing to resolve the lawsuit instead of fighting, according to the people familiar with the matter. S&P has previously called the lawsuit “meritless” and alleged it was retaliation for its 2011 downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt, which the government denied.

Bank Earnings Surprise on Pickup in Trading (WSJ)
“It’s not something we should do cartwheels over, but something we can stand up and cheer” about, said Tom Jalics, a senior investment analyst for Cleveland-based Key Private Bank, which manages J.P. Morgan and Goldman shares. “We should take note today but should be cautious about trading results going forward as well.”

Yahoo to Keep More of Alibaba After IPO, Return Cash (Bloomberg)
Yahoo! Inc will return at least half of the cash it reaps from Alibaba (BABA) Group Holding Ltd.’s initial public offering to shareholders, providing solace to investors who’ve hung on as Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer struggles to revive sales. The U.S. Web portal is also keeping a bigger stake in the Chinese e-commerce company, ensuring that Yahoo continues to benefit from its investment in the world’s largest Internet market. The plans for Alibaba were a bright spot in a report yesterday that showed Yahoo’s sales fell last quarter, missing analysts’ projections.

Ex-CalPERS CEO admits he’s a crook (Fortune)
When former CalPERS CEO Fred Buenrostro was charged more than a year ago by both federal and state officials with fraud and obstruction of justice charges, something didn’t seem right. The allegations focused on how Buenrostro had forged documents to help placement agent pal Alfred Villalobos get paid by some of his private equity clients, but there was no mention of Buenrostro personally benefiting (beyond a $300k per year job with Villalobos upon retirement from CalPERS). Not was there any evidence that Buenrostro improperly influenced investment decisions at CalPERS. But it seems he did both things, according to his guilty plea last Friday in a San Francisco courthouse. Buenrostro’s attorney had previously suggested that his client was prepared to roll over on Villalobos, who continues to insist that he did nothing wrong. And roll over he did, acknowledging not only the fraud, but also: The receipt of $200,000 in cash from Villalobos — stuffed into shoe boxes and paper bags over a series of three meetings – in exchange for confidential CalPERS information and influence in directing CalPERS to invest in Villalobos’ clients…[also] Villalobos paid for Buenrostro’s 2004 wedding.

Jamie Dimon: Companies should feel free to bail on the U.S. (Fortune)
Dimon’s public thumbs up for inversions—the growing practice where American companies buy smaller foreign companies to relocate overseas and avoid paying U.S. taxes—came in response to a question from Fortune on a media conference call after JPMorgan released its second quarter results. He said the real problem was the tax code, not CEOs trying to shirk their responsibilities. “You want the choice to be able to go to Wal-Mart to get the lowest prices,” Dimon said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning. “Companies should be able to make that choice as well.” Dimon did not elaborate on the difference between choosing where to buy your underwear and where a corporations calls home. In a recent cover story for Fortune, Allan Sloan argued that U.S. companies are “positively unpatriotic” when they move their corporate headquarters overseas to pay lower taxes because of the benefits they receive by being (except for tax purposes) American companies. What’s more, Sloan argued undermining the U.S. tax base will be bad for all shareholders in the long run.

Massachusetts Taco Bell employee shoots customer with BB gun (NYDN)
A Massachusetts Taco Bell employee allegedly shot a customer with a BB gun after the diner grew angry because no one would take his order. Springfield Police arrested 26-year-old Steven Noska on assault and battery charges for the Sunday morning incident, WWLP reported. Around 4 a.m., the customer, also 26, pulled into the drive-thru at the Springfield, Mass., Taco Bell, police said in a statement. He was hungry and wanted tacos, he told officers. The restaurant was open, but no one came to the window, he claimed. After waiting for a while, the customer started banging on the glass. When that didn’t getthe employees’ attention, the man parked his car and went to the restaurant’s door. He banged on that, too. Finally, Noska came to the door to confront the fuming would-be diner. The two men started arguing, police said. Then, it got violent. Noska allegedly shoved the customer, walked to his car and grabbed a BB gun. Police said Noska shot the man several times before hitting him with the pistol. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.15.14

Barclays Dark Pool Volume Fell 37% in Week of Lawsuit (Bloomberg)
Barclays saw a 37 percent decline in the number of U.S. shares that traded in its dark pool during the week that it was sued by New York for allegedly lying to customers of that venue. About 197 million shares were traded in the dark pool during the week of June 23, down from 312 million the previous week, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Three of the London-based bank’s largest rivals — Credit Suisse Group AG, UBS AG and Deutsche Bank AG — saw increases during the week, the Finra data show. Barclays lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders as it sought to boost revenue at one of Wall Street’s largest private trading venues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a complaint filed June 25. He cited a pattern of misleading and false representations that went on as recently as April.

Citigroup to Get Tax Silver Lining in $7 Billion Settlement (MoneyBeat)
Citigroup will get a tax break on at least part of its $7 billion settlement with the government over its mortgage securities that went bad. The costs incurs in providing $2.5 billion in assistance to distressed homeowners and other consumer relief – will be tax deductible, the bank and outside experts said Monday. So will the $500 million Citigroup is paying to state attorneys general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The $4 billion fine the bank is paying to the Justice Department will not be deductible, however. Under the law, fines and similar penalties imposed on companies as part of a settlement can’t be deducted on a company’s tax return, but other amounts paid can be deducted, as ordinary business expenses.

Draghi Says Banks Shouldn’t Count on Another Carry Trade (Bloomberg)
“The convenience to use the ECB cheap money to buy government bonds is much less” than in a previous funding round which started in 2011, the ECB president said in testimony to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France yesterday. “The general situation is such that these carry trades are going to be much less profitable.”

Allan Mayer Helped Take Down American Apparel Founder Dov Charney (BusinessWeek)
Allan Mayer, a member of American Apparel’s (APP) board of directors, helped oust Dov Charney from the company a month ago. Charney, of course, founded American Apparel and was its chairman, chief executive officer, president, public face (and oh, so much more). But who is Allan Mayer Mayer first met Charney in 2004, after the publication of the now notorious article in Jane magazine—the one where Charney masturbated in front of the reporter, with her consent and while talking about business. Mayer was a crisis manager; Charney, a perennial candidate for crisis management. After American Apparel went public in 2007, Charney invited Mayer to join the board. He’s now co-chairman and one of only two board members to keep their seats after a deal with hedge fund Standard General on July 9 to rescue the company.

A Goldman World Cup Streak Weighs on Brazil (Dealbook)
Soccer fans in Brazil might be forgiven if they asked Goldman Sachs to back another team. Despite predicting a World Cup victory for Brazil for the third-consecutive time, Goldman was off the mark again. In a pre-tournament analysis, the bank forecast that the host nation would defeat Argentina in the final, 3-1…Notable was how heavy a favorite the bank made the host nation. It gave Brazil a 48.5 percent probability of winning the title, a figure that it noted was almost twice the 25 percent probability that Ladbrokes bookmakers had. It wrote in its report that “the most striking aspect of our model is how heavily it favors Brazil to win the World Cup.” No other team came anywhere close. Argentina was second, with a 14.1 percent probability, and Germany third with a 11.4 percent probability. Goldman trumpeted in its report that “we have invested much more intensively this year in a model of the probability of success in a match between any two given teams, based on their track record and characteristics.”

‘Til Big Mac do us part: McDonald’s hosts weddings (CNBC)
Nothing spells eternity like a McDonald’s white balloon wedding gown or a crystal McDonald’s house wedding gift for some couples tying the knot in Hong Kong. These are just two of the items available as part of the fast food giant’s wedding party program, which launched in 2011 in the region to meet customer demand. Since then, McDonald’s has hosted about a couple dozen wedding parties and expanded the service from three restaurants to 15, wrote McDonald’s spokeswoman Jessica Lee in an email. The fast-food giant also hosts engagement, anniversary and bridal shower parties. “We started the program because many customers tell us that McDonald’s is where they first started dating…McDonald’s is where their love stories grew,” Lee added. “This connection is exactly why they want to hold their wedding parties and even anniversary parties at McDonald’s—to relive sweet beginnings and bring their romantic story full circle.” The company offers four separate wedding packages for the betrothed, topping out at HK$9,999 or about US $1,290. The bargain party option clocks in at about HK$2,888 or US$373…The deluxe version includes a 2-hour venue rental, McDonaldland character gifts for 50 guests, 50 invites, wedding gifts, a pair of McD’s balloon wedding rings, bridal bouquet, apple pie cake display, Crystal McDonald’s house, decorations, a MC and more. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.14.14

Bitcoin by Bitcoin, the Winklevii ETF Inches Closer to Reality (Bloomberg)
It looks increasingly like the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust (COIN) will actually launch. If it hits the market later this year, it will come a decade after the inception of the world’s largest gold fund, SPDR Gold Shares (GLD). COIN was modeled on GLD and in some ways is trying to be a new generation’s version of gold. The cyptocurrency would move closer to the mainstream in an exchange-traded fund wrapper. There’s still no guarantee COIN will be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. There are more than a thousand prospectuses for ETFs sitting with the SEC, and hundreds of reserved tickers sitting with stock exchanges. And this approval would be the first of its kind — a virtual asset.

Investigators Probe the Ways a Swiss Broker Courted Libyan Business (WSJ)
At a luxury villa in the Moroccan desert, an international brokerage firm hosted getaways for Libyans connected to the country’s oil-rich sovereign-wealth funds. The men spent their days lounging poolside and nights partying at clubs in Marrakesh. The jaunts were part of a campaign by Tradition Financial Services of Switzerland to win business in Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, an effort that included hiring relatives of senior Libyan officials, according to people who attended and to former employees of the firm. The tactics evidently worked. Tradition for years handled investments for the Libyan funds, earning millions of dollars in commissions. Now its efforts are under scrutiny in wide-ranging U.S. and British corruption probes that are examining the lengths to which some Western financial firms went to gain a piece of Libya’s oil wealth.

Behind the Scenes of Citigroup’s $7 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
The negotiations are stoking banks’ fears that the Justice Department is getting increasingly heavy-handed against the industry, while investors are worried that bank penalties will be decided not by a formula but by the subjective measures of the government. The deal also could be seen as a key test for Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, who was given the top job in 2012 with a mandate to improve the bank’s relationship with the government. Meanwhile, Mr. Holder has faced constant criticism from Congress and elsewhere that his Justice Department has been too soft on financial institutions.

Bankrupt Crumbs Might Be Saved (NYP)
Crumbs Bake Shop has a deal, which if approved by a bankruptcy judge, could reopen the cupcake maker, according to a court filing on Friday.
Crumbs, which specialized in oversized cupcakes and went public in 2011, shuttered its nearly 50 locations in 10 states on Monday. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday. The new ownership comprises Marcus Lemonis, star of the reality show “The Profit” and known as the “business turnaround king” and Fischer Enterprise, the owner of Dippin Dots. The two would provide debtor-in-possession financing and subsequently buy the cupcake chain through a joint venture called Lemonis Fischer Acquisition Co, according to the filing. They would take Crumbs private and reopen its stores and resume operations.

Barry’s Bootcamp Considers Strategic Options Including Sale (WSJ)
Barry’s Bootcamp, a group fitness chain that counts celebrities among its clients, is considering strategic options including a sale or capital raise, according to people familiar with the matter. The company, which offers a bootcamp-style workouts in a nightclub setting, could fetch $100 million in a sale, two people said. One person said that figure would be on the high end and another said even more was possible. Investment bank Moelis & Co. is expected to contact potential buyers or investors in a process that would kick off later this summer or early fall, the people said. Founded in 1998 by fitness instructor Barry Jay, the company is considered fast growing, the people said. It currently operates out of 14 locations, mostly in the U.S. but also including Norway and London. Private-equity firms, which are increasingly investing in the health and wellness sector, are potential suitors for Barry’s, one of the people said.

Guy Who Called LeBron James the ‘Whore of Akron’ Forgives Him Now (NYM)
Esquire‘s Scott Raab, whose book The Whore of Akron is about how much he hated LeBron James for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers, no longer hates LeBron James. No hard feelings, he says! “Broadway Danny Rose said it best — ‘Acceptance, forgiveness, and love,’” Raab wrote. “As human beings, that’s the only recipe for leading a righteous life in this world. Such words — from the famous and unfamous — come cheap. But you’re living those truths now, walking that walk. Who am I to hold a grudge?” Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.11.14

Cynk Suspended by SEC After No-Member Network’s Surge (Bloomberg)
Cynk Technology Corp., the supposed operator of a social network that caught the attention of the financial world with its skyrocketing stock price, was suspended from trading by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The halt is because of “concerns regarding the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace and potentially manipulative transactions in CYNK’s common stock,” the SEC said today on its website. Judith Burns, a spokeswoman for the agency, declined to comment further. Cynk’s social network appears to have no members, no revenue, no assets and only one employee. The stock-price chart has been the talk of all manner of business blogs and Twitter pundits, from Business Insider to the Wall Street Journal and Zero Hedge, which has called Cynk’s moves “pure madness.”

Wells Fargo’s Profit Edges Up (WSJ)
Wells Fargo reported net income of $5.73 billion, compared with $5.52 billion a year earlier. Per-share earnings, reflecting the payment of preferred dividends, were $1.01 versus 98 cents a year earlier. Revenue slipped 1.5% to $21.07 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share earnings of $1.01 on revenue of $20.84 billion.

Ex-Merrill Lynch Banker Uses Big Data to Save U.K. Pubs (Bloomberg)
The Oxford-educated Bulkin, 37, spent 15 years cutting deals as a mergers & acquisitions banker for Merrill Lynch and Lazard Ltd. before leaving last year to start his own pub company, Hawthorn Leisure Ltd. He’s acquired hundreds of struggling pubs and plans to turn them around by tracking everything from the price charged for beer to daily sales fluctuations to customers’ drink preferences. “Understanding pricing and the mix of drinks is incredibly important,” Bulkin says in an office overlooking Hyde Park in London’s upscale Mayfair district. “A lot of pubs don’t have that data. If you can make them the core of your business, there’s a fantastic opportunity.”

London Seeks New Spenders as Russians Skip $719 Champagne (Bloomberg)
To gauge London’s place in the global economy, you could examine World Bank statistics, canvass investors and analyze trade volumes. Or you could visit Mahiki, a Polynesian-themed nightclub in upmarket Mayfair where a bottle of Cristal Champagne goes for $719 — and Russian customers are being supplanted by revelers from countries including China and Nigeria. “We’re seeing a lot less Russian surnames on the booking sheet,” said Michael Evans, the creative director of the club, where the likes of Rihanna and Prince Harry have been spotted after dark. “It’s very easy to see what’s going on in the world from the markets we attract.”

Rajaratnam acquittal shows indirect insider trading case challenge (Reuters)
The acquittal on Tuesday of the younger brother of convicted hedge fund titan Raj Rajaratnam suggests prosecutors will have a tougher time pursuing people accused of trading on inside information they received indirectly. Roughly a third of the insider trader defendants charged by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara since 2009 are alleged so-called “remote tippees”. According to prosecutors, in such cases the defendant, or “tippee,” never directly talks to the insider, instead getting information from an intermediary. After the case of former Galleon Group fund manager Rengan Rajaratnam, prosecutors may reevaluate how they build similar cases, said James Cox, a law professor at Duke University.

Gym Teacher, Suspended For Twerking With Students (HP)
Courtney Spruill, who teaches history and PE at Kernan Middle School in Jacksonville was suspended for 15 days without pay on July 1. The tush-shaking tips allegedly occurred in May during a party for the girls’ soccer team that took place at the house of one of the players. Spruill is the team coach. Witnesses at the party told Duval County School Board investigators they saw Spruill drinking vodka and twerking on the players. Investigators also say they reviewed a cellphone video of Spruill getting a lap dance from a student at the party, WPTV TV reports. Read more »