Opening Bell: 12.07.10

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US Unloads Citi Stake For $12 Billion Profit (WSJ)
The stock sale, which was finalized Monday evening, means taxpayers will reap a profit of $12 billion on their $45 billion cash investment in Citi, the Treasury said. It also helps the government quell some of the criticism that it went too far in propping up the financial system, and allows the bank to shake the market stigma that it has effectively been a ward of the state.

Deal Struck On Tax Package (WSJ)
President Barack Obama reached agreement Monday with Republican leaders in Congress on a broad tax package that would extend the Bush-era income tax cuts for two years, reduce worker payroll taxes for one year and give more favorable treatment to business investments. Other elements of the deal include a temporary reinstatement of the estate tax at 35%—the level favored by most Republican lawmakers—as well as an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Obama Summons CEOs To White House For Talks Amid Changes (Bloomberg)
Obama has met with Michael Duke, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Alan Lafley, a former CEO of Procter & Gamble Co., and Steven Reinemund, former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Inc. He has also spoken with former President Bill Clinton. More discussions are on the way. “Over the next several weeks I’m going to be meeting with my economic team, with business leaders and others to develop specific policies and budget recommendations for the coming year,” Obama said yesterday during a speech in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Jim Rogers: Some European Countries Are Bankrupt (CNBC)
“You need to let Ireland go bankrupt. They are bankrupt, why should innocent Germans, Poles or anybody pay for mistakes made by Irish politicians,” Rogers said.

Julian Assange Arrested In London (WSJ)
Mr. Assange's attorney, Mark Stephens, arrived a short time later, saying only that the WikiLeaks' founder was in "good spirits" and his interaction with police had been "cordial." Mr. Stephens has said he plans to fight the validity of the Swedish arrest warrant in court. The U.K. is known for carefully scrutinizing extradition requests, and in some high-profile cases has rejected these requests and refused to extradite people. Mr. Stephens said in an earlier interview that the rape allegation appeared to arise days after he engaged in "consensual, but unprotected sex" with one of the women. He added that it was "only after the women became aware of each other's relationships with Mr. Assange did they make allegations against him."

Hiring Intentions At US Employers Improving, Manpower Says (Bloomberg)
The U.S. labor market outlook is improving, with more employers planning to boost payrolls at the start of 2011 and fewer expecting to cut headcounts compared with the same time this year, a private survey showed today.

Chicago Police Will Taser Just About Anyone (Gawker)
Over the last year, Chicago police have used tasers on people 683 times — an increase from just 197 times in 2009. That's because the police department more than doubled its taser arsenal, and stopped investigating every taser-related incident.

Blackstone Said to Team Up With China's Bright Food to Buy GNC (Bloomberg)
Bright Food is attempting its biggest acquisition as Chairman Wang Zong Nan expands overseas. Pittsburgh-based GNC, with more than 7,100 stores globally, may fetch about $2 billion, the people familiar with the matter said in October.

HSBC Had Madoff Warnings In 2001 (FT)
In the $9 billion claim against HSBC and other European institutions, the trustee charged with recovering money for Mr Madoff’s victims alleged the warnings began as early as 2001, seven years before the scheme collapsed.

Bank of Ireland ATM and online systems fail (BBC)
One of Ireland's biggest banks has issued an apology to customers after a systems failure meant that, for a time, they were unable to access their cash accounts. The Bank of Ireland said it became aware at 1000 GMT on Tuesday that ATMs were not working and customers were unable to make online transactions. A spokesperson said the fault had been largely rectified.

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