Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 1.28.15

charliegasparinovintageShake Shack now expects IPO to be priced higher at $17-$19 a share (Reuters)
Burger chain Shake Shack Inc (SHAK.N) now expects its initial public offering to be priced at $17-$19 per share, up from $14-$16 expected earlier, valuing the company at up to $674.5 million. The offering of 5 million Class A shares is expected to raise about $95 million, Shake Shack said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday. The company, which grew out of a hot dog stand in New York’s Madison Square Park, is known for its Shackburgers, flat-top hot dogs and eponymous milkshakes and has developed a cult following since it was founded by restaurateur Daniel Meyer in 2001.

iPhone 6 sales boost Apple profits to stratospheric levels (NYP)
Apple disclosed Tuesday that it sold a mind-blowing 74.5 million iPhones during its holiday quarter, as shoppers snatched up the sleek new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models that boasted faster processors and thinner bodies with bigger screens. The popularity of the new models goosed the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant’s earnings to $18 billion — by some measures the biggest quarterly profit ever to be reported by a publicly traded company — as revenue climbed 29 percent to $74.6 billion. Apple ended the quarter with a whopping $178 billion in cash on its balance sheet — a figure that exceeds the market value of any number of corporate giants including Walt Disney, AT&T and Bank of America. ‘This volume is hard to comprehend,” CEO Tim Cook told analysts on a conference call. On average, Wall Street expected that 66.5 million iPhones would be sold. Doing the math, Cook noted that, for every day of the quarter ended Dec. 27, Apple sold about 34,000 iPhones per hour.

Robbers Crash Into Wells Fargo Museum to Steal Gold Nuggets (Dealbook)
Three masked robbers smashed a stolen sport utility vehicle into the entrance of Wells Fargo’s corporate museum in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district on Tuesday, then held a security guard at gunpoint and made off with gold nuggets from a display case, the San Francisco police said. The police are investigating the bold and apparently well-coordinated robbery early Tuesday at the Wells Fargo History Museum, which is on the street level of the bank’s corporate headquarters. The three robbers abandoned the S.U.V. and fled in a sedan that the police said was either parked nearby or could have been driven by a fourth person who was waiting with a getaway car. While the police say their preliminary estimates of the nuggets’ value is about $10,000, the gold has sentimental value to the bank, which takes its history seriously.

Fed seen remaining patient with rates amid global turmoil (Reuters)
The Fed’s first two-day policy meeting of the year concludes on Wednesday, and policymakers will likely restate their “patient” approach to raising rates, while also voicing faith that the economy will continue improving.

‘Sex theme park’ with giant penis rides to open in Taiwan (Metro)
A sex theme park where tourists can ride astride gigantic stone penises with realistic scrotums is under construction in Taiwan. The park will be called ‘Romantic Boulevard’, and will include an outdoor garden filled with erotic sculptures of mammoth phalluses, as well as statues of people and animals making love…The park will also include a ‘scenic area’ for wedding photos (hopefully not right next to the giant penises), and is to be based on South Korea’s popular Jeju Park. ‘We want people to fall in love with Taiwan, as well as fall in love while in Taiwan,’ said Shih Chao-hui, the deputy director of the local tourist office. Shih claims that 200,000 visitors have already come to marvel at the giant dongs, and hopes to build a hotel into the park ‘just in case visitors want to turn their feelings into actions’. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.27.15

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 3.41.59 PMGoldman Sachs’s Cohn Says Oil Prices May Hit $30 in Extended Slump (Bloomberg)
Oil prices will probably continue to decline and could reach as low as $30 a barrel, according to Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. “We’re probably in the lower, longer view,” Cohn, a former oil trader, said Monday in an interview with CNBC.

J.P. Morgan Reportedly Gained Up to $300 Million in Swiss Franc Turmoil (WSJ)
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. notched $250 million to $300 million in gains after the Swiss central bank triggered turmoil in the markets in mid-January, a person familiar with the gains said. This comes as other banks, brokers and individual investors suffered hundreds of millions in losses when the Swiss currency jumped following the Swiss National Bank ’s decision to stop reining in the value of the franc against the euro. The currency grew by nearly 30% against the euro and 18% against the dollar and unleashed new volatility in credit and currency markets around the world.

Fink Says Swiss Avoiding Recession May Be Bad News for Euro (Bloomberg)
“There’s always been a debate, should Germany be in or out of the euro,” Fink told Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle during last week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “One of the arguments has always been about Germany — is it would-be suicide if they walked away from the euro because it would have a currency that revalued 20 or 30 percent.” If Switzerland avoids a “recession and the economy continues to fare fairly nicely what does it mean for an economy a little north of here?” he said atop the Alps. “I do believe it will lead to a large debate within Germany from the right wing about look what Switzerland did.”

BBQ Burglar Steals $4,000 Worth Of Ribs, Chicken, Wings And Fries (HP)
Last Wednesday, a robber broke into Jerome Brown BBQ and stole $4,000 worth of ribs, chicken, wings and fries from the restaurant, News4Jax.com reports. The rib-loving robber gained entry by prying open a side door and also took away an empty cash register before winging it out the door. Surveillance video caught the BBQ burglar in the act, but the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office have yet to track down a suspect. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.26.15

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.25.03 AMGreece Must Repay Debt, Europe Officials Say (WSJ)
Europe’s establishment moved quickly on Monday to douse hopes it would relax the terms of Greece’s bailout following the commanding victory by antiausterity leftists in its election, insisting that Athens honor its commitments. “We believe Greece has accepted terms that are not off the table after the election day,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin. Asked in Brussels whether Greece could expect more leniency from the eurozone, the head of the currency’s bloc’s conference of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was blunt: “I don’t think there is a lot of support for that in the eurozone,” he said.

Tsipras Forges Anti-Austerity Coalition in EU Challenge (Bloomberg)
Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Greek prime minister and handed a mandate to form a government that will challenge international creditors over the budget cuts he said had heaped humiliation on the country. Tsipras’s Syriza party and the Independent Greeks announced plans for an anti-austerity coalition in Athens on Monday after Syriza won an emphatic election victory by harnessing a public backlash against years of job losses and hardship. In a post-election speech, Tsipras said his priority is “for Greece and its people to regain their lost dignity.”

New Yorkers Told to Stay Home as 2 Feet of Snow Forecast (Bloomberg)
New York officials told residents to stay at home as a blizzard forecasters call “life-threatening” may dump as much as two feet of snow from New York to Boston. Northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and large parts of southern New England to Boston may receive as much as 24 inches (60 centimeters) of snow, the National Weather Service said in its latest advisory. The storm has already caused more than 1,800 flight cancellations and will probably block road and rail traffic, close schools and knock out power across the U.S. Northeast.

Hedge Funds Bet Oil Will Fall Further (Bloomberg)
Hedge funds boosted bearish wagers on oil to a four-year high as U.S. supplies grew the most since 2001. Money managers increased short positions in West Texas Intermediate crude to the highest level since September 2010 in the week ended Jan. 20, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Net-long positions slipped for the first time in three weeks.

Bonuses could jump 50 percent for top traders (NYP)
The top traders on the most profitable trading desks will see their bonuses skyrocketing by as much as 50 percent from 2013 levels in a new formula that sees fellow traders with smaller trading profits being docked a similar stunning proportion, according to a Wall Street recruiter. “The No. 1 thing I have noticed is the spread between the haves and have-nots this year,” said Peter Tannenbaum, CEO of Ramax Search, which places professionals at banks, brokerages, hedge funds, private-equity firms and other parts of the Street. “In the past, maybe 30 out of a 50-person team, for example, would share 70 percent of the bonus pool. That’s changing — firms recognize the need to keep the top 10 percent to 20 percent really happy, and then kind of figure out what to do with the rest.” Tannenbaum says it’s tough love for the underdogs. “Those second-tier guys are going to leave anyway,” he told The Post. “Their compensation could be down as much as 50 percent.”

Parent complains about ‘Po Pimp’ homework assignment (UPI)
Scott Tolleson appeared before a school board in Newton County, Ga., after his son showed him a homework assignment featuring a sentence about “Po Pimp,” a hit song by rap group Do or Die. “Try to explain to a fourth-grader what ‘Po Pimp’ is,” Tolleson told WSB-TV. The assignment, part of an English language-arts class, dealt with sentence structure and relationship of ideas, including concepts of compare and contrast, sequence, and cause and effect. The sentence in question dealt with a chronological series of career milestones by rap artist Twista, including his appearance in the “Po Pimp” video in 1996. Tolleson said that after watching the video for “Po Pimp,” he was disturbed by the song’s references to illegal activity and the objectification of women. “It was very upsetting to my family when we saw this,” Tolleson said. “My wife was left in tears at the kitchen table.” Aside from the song’s content, Tolleson asked the school board if “this kind of slang is appropriate in language arts.” “We take great care to review documents selected by our curriculum teams,” Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent for Newton County schools, said in a statement. “Unfortunately we missed this item.” Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.23.15

chicken wingsHigh-Frequency Probe’s First Target Is Barclays (Bloomberg)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s 10-month investigation into high-speed trading has so far led to one big target: Barclays Plc. Almost a year after New York’s top cop made a splash with subpoenas of six high-frequency trading operations, the names of some of these firms cropped up in documents filed this week in the state court in Manhattan. The firms aren’t defendants, though. They are listed as part of Schneiderman’s proposed updated complaint against Barclays, which ran the private trading venue, or dark pool, where these firms traded. Schneiderman’s suit doesn’t allege any wrongdoing by the high-frequency trading firms. Its focus, instead, is whether Barclays lied to its customers about what HFT firms were doing inside Barclays’s dark pool, one of Wall Street’s largest in-house trading platforms.

$43 hot dogs at Davos (CNBC)
At the posh Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, a conference hotspot, even humble menu items can be astronomically pricey. A hot dog with pickles, fried onions and mustard is priced at 38 Swiss francs (about $43.50). It’s 48 Swiss francs for a chicken Caesar salad with parmesan (about $55) and a draft beer at a local restaurant – in a pint-sized glass – can cost 6.50 Swiss francs, about $7.50.

Bordeaux Is Illiquid and Other Wine Investment Hazards (Bloomberg)
More than half a dozen firms peddling wine investments in the U.K. alone went belly up last year. Why have there been so many flops? “Most funds collapse because they have the wrong structure, the wrong strategy and no focus on how to exit,” says Brian Mota, co-manager of The Wine Trust, a U.S. fund founded in 2010 with $15 million to $20 million in assets. Mota is convinced The Wine Trust’s private-equity-fund-type setup, in which investors’ money is locked in for eight years, is the most appropriate for wine, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its February issue. “It’s an illiquid investment,” Mota says, chuckling at the irony of his statement. “You can only maximize returns if you can sell at the right moment.”

The Super Bowl Wings Will Be Fat, Yes, But Pricey Too (Bloomberg)
First the fat part. American farmers are giving their chickens extra feed, taking advantage of plunging corn and soybean costs to help lift poultry production — as measured by weight — to a record. But each chicken, of course, still only has two wings, regardless of its size. And the number of actual chickens slaughtered last year fell, causing a drop of about 50 million wings, government data show. That smaller supply is what’s triggering the pricey part of the equation. The cost of wholesale wings sold by processors in Georgia, which sets the benchmark for the nation, has surged 8.2 percent this month to $1.715 a pound, the biggest jump to start a year since 2012. Americans will consume 1.25 billion wings when game day arrives Feb. 1. That estimate, provided by the National Chicken Council, is unchanged from last year’s Super Bowl.

German judge: Man can’t be fined for peeing standing up (UPI)
A German judge ruled a tenant can’t be held responsible for floor damage resulting from urinating while in the standing position. Dusseldorf Judge Stefan Hank sided with the tenant, whose lawsuit said the landlord refused to return $2,100 of his $3,300 deposit, alleging the resident’s urine had damaged the marble floor around the toilet. Hank said the arguments from the landlord and a “technical expert” who confirmed urine was responsible for the marble tile damage were “credible and understandable,” but not enough to sway his opinion. “Despite the increasing domestication of men in this regard, urinating while standing up is still widespread,” the judge wrote in his ruling. Hank said the landlord should have warned the tenant of the floor’s “sensitivity” to urine droplets. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.22.15

big footFamily Dollar shareholders approve Dollar Tree deal (Reuters)
Family Dollar Stores Inc’s shareholders approved the discount retailer’s deal to be bought by Dollar Tree Inc (DLTR.O), effectively putting Dollar General Corp out of the race to buy the company. About 84 million shares were voted in favor of the deal, representing 74 percent of the total outstanding shares.

Schneiderman makes another splash in Barclays dark pool (NYP)
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an amended complaint against the British bank, claiming that two of its top executives aren’t cooperating with the office’s investigation into one of its “dark pools.” The complaint also names additional instances of when Barclays misrepresented its trading platform to investors. The new accusations come as the AG’s office has combed through hundreds of thousands of additional documents since making its initial accusations in June, according to an official from the AG’s office who wasn’t authorized to speak about the case. The complaint points to William White, head of electronic trading, and his second-in-command, David Johnsen, head of product development, as refusing to cooperate with the probe. It’s the first time any names have been singled out in the case.

How Greece and Germany Brought Europe’s Long-Simmering Crisis Back to a Boil (WSJ)
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, under pressure at home to end his country’s financial bailout regimen, sought help last spring from German Chancellor Angela Merkel about relieving some of Greece’s debt. Ms. Merkel asked an interpreter to translate the phrase “debt relief,” according to people familiar with the meeting. Then she told Mr. Samaras: “It doesn’t sound as good in German.” The retort was an early sign Greece could expect little clemency from its German-led creditors.

Best Hedge Fund in Sweden Posts Historic Volatility Returns (Bloomberg)
“It’s become more exciting,” Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Svante Bergstroem said in an interview in Stockholm. “The second half of 2014 was very positive for us and since April we have had nine consecutive months with a plus, which we have never had in the history of the fund.” The $5.5 billion fund has profited from disruptions caused by a slumping oil price, central bank stimulus and even sanctions against Russia. The fund’s investments are determined by its proprietary model, which tracks patterns in financial markets, Bergstroem said.

Patriots Deflation Scandal May Cost Team NFL Draft Pick, Fine (Bloomberg)
The New England Patriots face a potential fine or loss of draft picks if a National Football League investigation finds the team broke rules by deflating footballs used in its conference championship game victory. The NFL’s probe found that 11 of the 12 balls supplied by the Patriots and used by their offense in the 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18 were underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch below the league’s 12.5 to 13.5 PSI requirement, according to ESPN. Balls inflated to less than the required weight may be easier for a quarterback to throw and receivers to catch, particularly in wet or cold conditions.

Meth-Drone Crashes Near US-Mexico Border (AP)
Police in a Mexican border city said Wednesday that a drone overloaded with illicit methamphetamine crashed into a supermarket parking lot. Tijuana police spokesman Jorge Morrua said authorities were alerted after the drone fell Tuesday night near the San Ysidro crossing at Mexico’s border with California. Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.21.15

markzuckerbergoffice-260x271S&P, SEC, Two States Agree to Roughly $80 Million Settlement (WSJ)
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has agreed to pay more than $77 million to settle federal and state charges that it loosened its ratings criteria to win business and did not disclose those changes to investors. The settlement announced Wednesday is with the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Separately, S&P is still negotiating to pay more than $1.37 billion to the Justice Department and more than a dozen states to resolve claims S&P committed fraud by misrepresenting its ratings as independent and objective during the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

ECB Seeks to Inject Up to 1.1 Trillion Euros Into Economy in Deflation Fight (Bloomberg)
Mario Draghi called on the European Central Bank to make its biggest push yet to fend off deflation and revive the economy by unleashing a debt-buying spree of 1.1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion). The ECB president and his Executive Board proposed spending 50 billion euros a month through December 2016, two euro-area central-bank officials said. The plan still faces a tense debate in the Governing Council and may change before the final decision on Thursday, the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

Druckenmiller Alums at PointState Make $1 Billion on Oil (Bloomberg)
Hedge fund manager Zach Schreiber stood on stage at Avery Fisher Hall in New York eight months ago and made a bold prediction. “We believe crude oil is going lower — much lower,” Schreiber, 42, told the audience of roughly 3,000 investors, including some of the biggest money managers in the industry. “If you are long, I’m sorry for you.” Then he showed a slide of a car stuffed with clowns. Crude was trading at $99 a barrel that day, bolstered by speculation that Russia’s annexation of Crimea and incursions into Ukraine would crimp shipments. Prices crept up over the next weeks peaking in June at $107. Then, as Schreiber predicted, the dive began. Oil fell more than 50 percent through the end of the year as global supplies piled up, helping Schreiber’s PointState Capital make about 27 percent for the year after fees. The New York-based investment firm’s profit was about $2 billion in 2014 with about half of that from the oil trade, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the firm is private.

Facebook study shows it’s a job creator — not a killer (NYP)
A report commissioned by Facebook claims the social network generated a whopping $227 billion worth of economic activity and 4.5 million jobs last year. The study, prepared by consulting firm Deloitte, looked at everything from businesses that maintain Facebook pages to consumers who play games on the social network. “People believe that technology creates jobs in the tech sector and destroys jobs everywhere else,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters. “This report shows that’s not true.” However, critics say the study is confusing cause and effect, and assigns Facebook too much credit for a range of tangential economic activities. For instance, the study attributes 16 percent of smartphone sales to Facebook. It based that finding on a separate European survey that showed an equal number of respondents said they could not live without social media, according to WSJ.com. The study also gives credit for consumers who donated $100 million for the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, saying the social network’s auto-play video ads were a key factor, Reuters reported.

New Hampshire lotto releases bacon-scented scratch-off (UPI)
The New Hampshire Lottery announced the release of its first-ever scratch-and-sniff ticket, which is designed to give off the alluring aroma of bacon. The “I (Heart) Bacon Scratch Ticket,” which sells for $1 and offers prizes of up to $1,000, was officially rolled out to stores this month, the lottery announced Monday. “The (NH) Lottery is focused on developing new and fun ways to engage customers. The I Heart Bacon scratch ticket combines two things people love: the chance to win cash and the wonderful, enticing smell of bacon,” Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, told WMUR-TV. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.20.15

close_up_knight_on_horseFed Officials on Track to Raise Short-Term Rates Later in the Year (WSJ)
Federal Reserve officials are staying on track to start raising short-term interest rates later this year, even though long-term rates are going in the other direction amid new investor worries about weak global growth, falling oil prices and slowing consumer price inflation. The Fed’s stance, as it prepares for a policy meeting later this month, is striking because European Central Bank officials are poised to take the opposite approach later this week.

Jefferies Reprises Role of Market White Knight (WSJ)
When foreign-exchange broker FXCM Inc. FXCM -15.06% was forced to seek a rescue last week following a surprise surge in the Swiss franc, a number of potential white knights surfaced, including private-equity firms and Leucadia National Corp. It soon became apparent, however, that the best-suited among them to pull off the lightning-fast cash infusion FXCM needed was Leucadia and its Jefferies Group LLC unit, which in recent years has honed its skills as a rescuer of firms succumbing to bouts of market turmoil. Jefferies bankers in about 36 hours put together a $300 million financing from its parent company that will keep FXCM in business. In addition to the 10% initial annual interest the loan commands, Leucadia stands to reap an outsize share of any dividends FXCM generates and of proceeds from any sale of the company or its parts. Jefferies’s role in bailing out FXCM is reminiscent of one it played in 2012, when Knight Capital Group Inc. needed an emergency infusion to stay afloat after a slew of accidental stock orders put the trading firm on the verge of collapse.

Wall Street titan’s son thrown out of NYC steakhouse (NYP)
The son of Wall Street titan Mario Gabelli caused a scene at hot new restaurant Hunt & Fish Club, bellowing “Do you know who my father is?” as Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino tried to calm him down. Michael Gabelli was thrown out of the Midtown steakhouse after he started yelling when the bill arrived. A witness said, “He forcefully argued with the servers and managers. Gasparino tried to help. Charlie kept saying things like, ‘You’re embarrassing your father.’” After Gabelli calmed down, he tried to get a drink, but when the bartender refused to serve him, he flipped out. So he was thrown out, but not before dropping, “Don’t you know who my father is?…He runs this city.”

Swiss Franc Trade Is Said to Wipe Out Everest’s Main Fund (Bloomberg)
Marko Dimitrijevic made a smart bet in December. The hedge fund manager, wagering the Swiss franc would fall, profited after voters there rejected a plan to have the central bank hold a fifth of its assets in gold. For the $830 million Everest Capital Global, his Miami-based firm’s oldest and biggest fund, investments from Switzerland contributed 0.6 percentage points to gains that month. Last week, the wager had a far bigger impact. In less than a day, it wiped out the 24-year-old fund, according to a person familiar with Everest Capital, leaving the firm with about $2.2 billion in seven other funds. Dimitrijevic, an emerging market specialist who’s navigated at least five debt crises in those markets, was undone by the central bank of the country where he was raised. Last week, the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly let the franc trade freely against the euro, ending its three-year policy of capping the franc at 1.20 a euro.

Gleeful German Firms Target Switzerland on Franc’s Gains (Bloomberg)
“The first thought to cross my mind was that this would be great for me and my company’s deliveries in Switzerland,” Hartmut Neidlein said as he recalled hearing about the Jan. 15 decision. “It’s now cheaper for them to buy our products and that could increase demand.” Wurotec is one of the thousands of small and medium-sized companies that make up the German Mittelstand, which account for more than half of the country’s gross domestic product. Neidlein has now set up a meeting with his Swiss distributor to try to boost sales of his machines, which start at 2,000 euros ($2,320), beyond the current 10 percent of the total.

Woman steals flat screen between her legs (WTSP)
Captured on video, a woman shocked workers by stealing a flat screen TV by stuffing it up her dress, between her legs. The woman simply walked into the store, picked up the packaged TV, placed it between her legs and walked out along with an accomplice. According to reports, it all happened in 13 seconds. “She did it so quickly no one had time to notice or react,” said the shop assistant. Read more »

Opening Bell: 1.16.15

Double_post_boxGoldman Sachs Posts Lowest Annual Trading Revenue Since 2005 (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), which set a Wall Street record for trading revenue in 2009, posted less than half that amount in 2014 as revenue from the firm’s biggest business fell to the lowest in almost a decade. The decline helped push fourth-quarter net income 7.1 percent lower to $2.17 billion, or $4.38 a share, from $2.33 billion, or $4.60, a year earlier, the New York-based company said Friday in a statement. The average estimate of 23 analysts in a Bloomberg survey was $4.36.

UBS’s Richest Clients Seen Flocking to Dollars After Swiss Franc Shock (Bloomberg)
UBS Group AG (UBSG), the largest Swiss bank, said its wealthiest clients will be attracted to U.S. dollars after Switzerland roiled markets by scrapping the franc’s cap. Private-banking customers are concerned a stronger franc will hurt Switzerland’s economy and the businesses they own, Simon Smiles, Zurich-based chief investment officer for ultra-high-net-worth individuals at UBS, said on Friday in an interview. Clients worldwide have yet to decide on whether to change currency allocations, he said. The bank cut its growth forecast for Switzerland and predicts the country will slip into deflation this year.

Greece’s Eurobank, Alpha Bank Ask Central Bank for Emergency Liquidity Assistance (WSJ)
Two of Greece’s biggest lenders, Eurobank Ergasias and Alpha Bank , have formally requested access to an emergency cash facility run by the country’s central bank, amid concerns that liquidity conditions in Greece’s banking sector were tightening in the run-up to national elections later this month. Banking officials from the two lenders said Friday that the moves were only a precaution and that neither faced an immediate cash crunch. “We have made an application to the central bank,” a senior executive at one of the banks said, “but it is strictly on a precautionary basis.”

British Man Convicted After Having Sex With A Mailbox (HP)
Paul Bennett, 45, pleaded guilty on Thursday to two counts of indecent exposure and using threatening and abusive words with abusive behavior, the Mirror reports. The plea stemmed from a Sept. 9 incident where he attempted to have sex with a mailbox in a public area. Witnesses told the court they saw Bennett pull down his pants in a shopping arcade and start to publicly perform a sexual act on himself in public. Prosecuting attorney Kate Beattie said Bennett then walked over to the postbox and “started to make sexual advances towards it,” according to the Mirror. Bennett reportedly rubbed himself against the mailbox while holding his hands in the air. Witnesses said he kept shouting “Wow!” during his mailbox masturbation. After he finished, Bennett pulled up his pants and started swinging on a lamppost, according to the Manchester Evening News. Read more »