Opening/Closing/Holiday Bell: 12.24.10

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Insider Trading Plea-Case By Witness Unsealed (WSJ)
The documents unsealed Thursday relate to cooperating witness Karl Motey, a California-based investment consultant, and they provide insight into how he was ensnared in the investigation and within months began to help authorities in their probe into the activities of analysts, hedge funds and mutual funds, among others. The extent of Mr. Motey's activity suggests that the insider-trading probe could expand in coming months. More arrests are expected next year. Mr. Motey was identified by The Wall Street Journal on Monday as a cooperating witness who taped conversations with employees and consultants of Primary Global Research LLC, a Mountain View, Calif., "expert-network" firm, in order to help federal investigators.

Goldman Adopts Long-Term Incentive Plan to Deter Risky Bets (Bloomberg)
The bank said it may grant bonuses that depend on future earnings, in addition to stock performance. The awards would go to “key employees” and be tied to a variety of financial measures including revenue, net income and return on equity, a gauge of profitability, the New York-based company said yesterday in a regulatory filing. Awards may consist of cash, securities or other equity-linked components, and carry provisions allowing their cancellation or return.

Whitney vs. Wall Street (NYP)
The week's smackdown of Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney continued unabated yesterday as more naysayers came out to challenge the star analyst's recent comments that up to 50 to 100 US cities could default on their municipal bonds over the next 18 months. Matt McCall, president of Penn Financial Group, told Fox Business Network viewers that Whitney unnecessarily "spooked" the muni bond market.

Reindeer Like Rudolph Get Blitzen On Magic Mushrooms (The Sun)
Scientists have found that the animals regularly eat the mind-bending fly agaric fungi in the wild. And Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen and pals are often seen staggering around, making odd noises afterwards. Scientist Andrew Haynes believes reindeer deliberately seek out the mushrooms to escape the monotony of dreary long winters. Writing in the respected Pharmaceutical Journal, Mr Haynes said: "They have a desire to experience altered states of consciousness. "For humans a common side-effect of mushrooms is the feeling of flying, so it's interesting the legend about Santa's reindeer is they can fly." He also said herdsmen drink the reindeer's urine to get high themselves.

China Trade Minister Sees 'Chronic' Euro Debt Problem (Reuters)
Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the 750-billion-euro ($983 billion) rescue fund set up for crisis-hit EU nations and ongoing bond sales from these countries did not solve the problem as the money would have to be paid back at steep interest rates, the Shanghai Securities News quoted him as saying. "These measures just turn an acute disease into a chronic one, and it's really hard to say whether these countries that are in deep trouble over the debt crisis can recover in the coming three or five years," Chen was quoted as saying.

BlackRock Blames Credit Crisis for Clean-Energy Fund Outflows (Bloomberg)
“The new-energy market and related stocks were significantly impacted by the credit crisis,” Robin Batchelor, manager of the $2.9 billion BlackRock New Energy Fund, said in an e-mail. Reduced demand for energy and “the fact that governments were perceived to have many new worries on their agenda combined to create a difficult environment,” he said. New York-based BlackRock is the world’s largest money manager.

$750,000 Art Heist (NYP)
A sophisticated thief stole a home surveillance system -- along with a gallery's worth of Andy Warhol limited-edition prints and other artworks, high-end watches and jewelry -- from the Meatpacking District apartment of a wealthy beef heir, sources said yesterday. Police declined to identify the victim, but sources said the heist was at the Ganesvoort Street home of Robert Romanoff, president of the Nebraska Meat Corp. His collection, which also included prints signed by Roy Lichtenstein and Carl Fudge's original oil painting "Live Cat," was pilfered sometime between Nov. 24 and Nov. 28.

Icahn Sued by Blockbuster Creditor Over Conversion of Equity (Bloomberg)
Icahn, his companies and investment funds including Icahn LP used “their position of power and inside information to sell their equity interests and essentially convert them into a potentially controlling” amount of debt because the notes allowed Icahn to gain control of Dallas-based Blockbuster “during and after it emerged from bankruptcy,” according to the filing.

Woman Found Dead At Home Of August Busch IV (STL)
A 27-year-old woman was found dead Sunday at a home owned by former Anheuser-Busch chief executive August Busch IV. Adrienne N. Martin, of St. Charles, was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m., according to Suzanne McCune, administrator of the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office. McCune declined to release a cause of death. Toxicology and other tests could take a few weeks. “There will be some tests that take some time to get results and nothing is finalized,” McCune said. A law enforcement source told the Post-Dispatch that the death was initially being investigated as a possible overdose.

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