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Opening Bell: 06.04.10

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BP places cap on leaking pipe, but success unclear (MarketWatch)
U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the cap was a "positive development" but added that "it will be some time before we can confirm that this method will work," according to media reports. The cap was lowered into place late Thursday after the oil giant earlier managed to sever the leaking pipe. However, the company had to resort to using shears to complete the cut after a bid to saw through the pipe failed.

Super Fast Traders' New Edge (WSJ)
"It is a rigged game," Sal Arnuk, co-founder of brokerage firm Themis Trading, said at a Securities and Exchange Commission roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., referring to the trading activity, which some call "latency arbitrage."

Laos Set For Capitalist Leap Into Stock Market (Reuters)
"There is huge potential in development but limited sources of financing," said Vathana Dalaloy, deputy secretary general of the country's newly formed Securities and Exchange Commission, which is setting up the bourse as a $20-million joint venture with Korea Exchange, Asia's fourth-largest bourse operator. Plans for the exchange also cast a spotlight on one of the world's last remaining hermit economies where annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth has averaged more than 7 percent over recent years, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). GDP was worth about $6 billion in 2009, according to World Bank data, with GDP per capita of nearly $900 compared with $4,000 in neighboring Thailand. With numerous rivers flowing through its misty, forest-clad mountains, Laos wants to become the "battery of Southeast Asia," selling power to its energy-hungry neighbors. Its jungles are also rich in minerals, attracting miners.

Man Sets Himself On Fire In Greek Bank (BW)
Police said the man entered a central Piraeus Bank branch Wednesday, carrying a can of fuel, and asked for the loans official. When told the official was away, he poured fuel over himself and set himself alight. Police said the man claimed to have financial problems.

Paulson Agrees To Buy Harrah's Shares For Debt (AP)
A 9.9 percent stake in exchange for $710 million in debt.

Hedge-Fund Clients Withdrew $3.5 Billion in April (BW)
“Proposed financial regulation in the U.S. and Europe -- some government folks aim to restrict the ability of banks to invest in hedge funds -- might help explain domestic flow weakness,” TrimTabs and BarclayHedge said. Hedge funds in Asia and Canada received more money than those in the U.S. and Europe over the past 12 months, they said. Investors pulled a net $7.3 billion from equity long-short funds, according to the firms. That category had the highest redemptions.

Austerity Drive? Not For Luxury Execs (Reuters)
"I buy art. The price doesn't mean anything. It's totally emotional and what we need today is emotion," said Jean-Marc Jacot, CEO at Swiss watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier. "I like traveling for fun. I like very much to travel. My last travel for fun was Zanzibar." Alex Bolen, CEO of U.S.-based fashion house Oscar de la Renta, likes his indulgences to keep bearing fruit. "I am desperate to have a nice garden. I have spent large sums of money on plants for my garden. I bought some fig trees," he said.

Taconic Miracle (NYP)
A Lower East Side man whose BMW went flying off the Taconic State Parkway in Dutchess County early Sunday was found badly hurt but alive yesterday in dense woods. "I'm so happy to see you guys!" Thomas Wopat-Moreau told the troopers who found him. Wopat-Moreau, who had just left a late-night party, suffered a severe back injury in the accident and was unable to crawl more than 120 feet from the vehicle before getting stuck in a swamp. Wopat-Moreau, 22, was driving his 2005 silver BMW when it toppled down an embankment, going airborne before coming to rest about 480 feet away, upside down. Brown was covered with bugs and spiders and badly dehydrated as a result of his 100-hour ordeal. "He repeatedly said, 'I want four pitchers of ice water,' " Brown said. Authorities had been hunting for Wopat-Moreau since he was reported missing after leaving a party in Stormville at 3 a.m. Sunday.

Morgan Stanley Says Roach To Relocate To New York (Bloomberg)
The 64-year-old economist, who has predicted China will overtake the U.S. as the dominant economy by 2025, relocated to Hong Kong in 2007 to lead a push to arrange more takeovers and stock sales in the region. Roach, who joined Morgan Stanley in 1982, said he wants to rejoin his family after three years “living out of a suitcase” in Asia and plans to use a teaching post at Yale to correct “misperceptions” of China.

Betting On Madoff Recovery Claims (WSJ)
ASM Capital is offering either to make an immediate payment of 20% of claims in exchange for the full claim; or make an upfront payment of 16% of the claims, with the investor keeping 33% of future recoveries. For those with claims less than $1 million, the payout could be slightly less, ASM says.