Opening Bell: 01.21.11

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BofA Posts Quarterly Loss (MarketWatch)
The bank reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, or 16 cents a share, including a previously announced goodwill impairment charge of $2 billion related to its home loans and insurance business. Excluding the charge, the company saw profit of $756 million, or 4 cents a share. Analysts polled by FactSet Research had forecast quarterly net income of 18 cents a share, on average. In the year-ago quarter, Bank of America posted a loss of $194 million, or 60 cents a share.

Goldman Pay Still Tops JPMorgan's as Bonus Season Begins (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan’s investment bank set aside enough money to pay an average of $369,651 to each employee for 2010, or 2.4 percent less than in 2009, according to the company’s year-end financial statements. Goldman Sachs’s pool equates to an average of $430,700, a reduction of 14 percent.

Buffett Stock Picker Simpson Opens Florida Firm After Retiring From Geico (Bloomberg)
Louis Simpson, the investor who picked stocks on behalf of billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for more than a decade before stepping down, is going into business for himself. The 74-year-old Illinois native is starting an investment- advisory firm with his wife Kimberly Querrey in Naples, Florida, according to documents filed Dec. 20 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, SQ Advisors LLC, is preparing to manage money later this year for Simpson’s family and friends, as well as outside charities, he said in an interview.

RBS In Talks To Quit State Protection Plan (FT)
Executives at Royal Bank of Scotland and officials at the Treasury are examining ways in which the part-nationalised bank could secure an early exit from the costly Asset Protection Scheme – an insurance structure designed to provide a government backstop for an original portfolio of £280bn ($445bn) of bad or risky assets.

California Declares Fiscal Emergency (CNBC)
Jerry Brown, California’s governor, declared a state of fiscal emergency on Thursday for the government of the most populous US state to press lawmakers to tackle its $25.4 billion budget gap.

Morgan Stanley Shows Life (WSJ)
Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the firm still needs to "close the gap" in interest-rate and currency trading. The company is just halfway into a two-year recovery plan for the trading unit, she added. It has hired more traders whose expertise is dealing with clients that like to buy large amounts of relatively simple products.

Immelt To Head New White House Jobs Board (WSJ)
The board will replace an existing panel called the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. The name of the new panel stresses competitiveness and job creation, which are expected to be themes of Mr. Obama's State of the Union Address next week. It will be called the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Lovebite partially paralyses woman (National)
A Christchurch doctor had to treat a woman after she was partially paralysed by a lovebite from her amorous partner. Dr Teddy Wu, who is currently working in the neurology department at Christchurch Hospital, said he believed it was the first time someone had been hospitalised by a "hickey". An article on the case has appeared in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Wu said he saw the woman over a year ago while he was working in Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. The 44-year-old Maori woman went to the emergency department after experiencing loss of movement in her left arm. It happened while she was sitting watching television. The only injury was a lovebite on the right of her neck near an artery. "Because it was a lovebite there would be a lot of suction. Because of the physical trauma it had made a bit of bruising inside the vessel," said Wu.

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Opening Bell: 04.13.12

JPMorgan Profit Slips (WSJ) J.P. Morgan reported a profit of $5.38 billion, down from $5.56 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, earnings were $1.31, up from $1.28 as the share count outstanding declined. The latest quarter included a net 8-cent per-share loss tied to litigation expenses and changes in the value of the bank's debt. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a per-share profit of $1.18, excluding debt-related charges. Revenue rose 6.3% to $27.42 billion. Analysts were looking for $24.68 billion. Wells Fargo reports higher first-quarter profit (Reuters) Wells Fargo, the nation's fourth-biggest U.S. bank, said net income was $4.25 billion, or 75 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $3.76 billion, or 67 cents, a share in the same period a year earlier. The average estimate from analysts was 73 cents per share. JPMorgan Said to Transform Treasury to Prop Trading (Bloomberg) Achilles Macris, hired in 2006 as the CIO’s top executive in London, led an expansion into corporate and mortgage-debt investments with a mandate to generate profits for the New York- based bank, three of the former employees said. Dimon, 56, closely supervised the shift from the CIO’s previous focus on protecting JPMorgan from risks inherent in its banking business, such as interest-rate and currency movements, they said. Some of Macris’s bets are now so large that JPMorgan probably can’t unwind them without losing money or roiling financial markets, the former executives said, based on knowledge gleaned from people inside the bank and dealers at other firms. Bank Bonus That Tops Salary May Be Banned by EU Lawmakers (Bloomberg) Governments and lawmakers in the 27-nation EU are considering rules for lenders that would go far beyond international agreements approved by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Denmark, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has proposed empowering nations to set surcharges of up to 3 percent across their banking systems. Karas yesterday suggested adding language to the legislation that would ban banker bonuses that exceed fixed pay, following calls from other lawmakers to rein in excessive compensation. IMF Lifts Growth Forecast, Cautiously (WSJ) Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the world economy is marked by "a high degree of instability" even though prospects for global growth are better than they were a few months ago. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Lagarde said the IMF, which marked down its 2012 forecast for global growth in January to 3.3%, has now marked it up to reflect improving conditions in the world economy. But she said the new forecast, to be released next week, remains more pessimistic than the one it made last September, which predicted 4% growth. Europe remains the biggest single risk to the global economy, the former French finance minister said. Hedge Fund Driver Guns DownArmed Robber (NYP) A retired NYPD lieutenant blew away a drugstore bandit yesterday as the suspect tried to gun down three police officers during a foot pursuit, sources said. Thomas Barnes, Barnes — a driver for hedge fund manager Philippe Laffont, was filling his tank at the BP station on East 119th Street and First Avenue at around 11 a.m. when he saw gunman Rudolph Wyatt running from the store, and sprang into action. He crouched behind his hedge-fund boss’ Mercedes SUV and squeezed off three shots, killing Wyatt, 23. The trigger-happy thug — wanted on warrants for two other shootings — lay dead in a pool of blood on the sidewalk wearing a black stocking mask with a wad of stolen cash spilling out of his pocket, witnesses said. “Part of the back of his head was missing. He had a large head wound and there was tons of blood,” said witness John Brecevich, 59, owner of the Original Patsy’s restaurant nearby. “It was a scene straight out of NYPD Blue.” Trustees Aim For MF Execs (NYP) The trustee tasked with clawing back money for burned customers of MF Global is training his sights on the brokerage firm’s executives — a list that likely includes former CEO Jon Corzine. In a statement yesterday, trustee James Giddens said he is considering pursuing claims against “certain responsible individuals” who worked for MF at the time customers’ trading accounts were improperly tapped. Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Giddens, declined to name names but said the trustee is considering civil suits against “officers, directors or other employees” of both the brokerage firm and the holding company. Fed Officials Differ on Need to Keep Rates Low to 2014 (Bloomberg) William C. Dudley, president of the New York Fed, and Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said the 2014 time-frame is needed to lower unemployment from 8.2 percent. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said rising inflation may prompt an interest-rate increase as early as this year, while Philadelphia’s Charles Plosser said policy should hinge on economic performance, not a calendar commitment. Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Race into home fire was a "come to Jesus moment" (CBS) Booker arrived home last night to discover his next-door neighbor's house on fire, and rescued a young woman trapped upstairs by carrying here through the flames, suffering second-degree burns in the process. The mayor's security team discovered the fire and pounded on the door to alert residents, when an elderly woman said that her daughter was trapped upstairs. At first, Newark Police Detective Alex Rodriguez would not let Booker into the burning house. "He basically told me, 'This woman is going to die if we don't help her,' and what can I say to that?," Rodriguez said. "I let him go and without thinking twice, he just ran into the flames and rescued this young lady." Booker said that as he jumped through the kitchen on the second floor, "I actually wasn't thinking. When I got there and couldn't find her in all the smoke, looked behind me and saw the kitchen really erupting with flames all over the ceiling, that's when I had very clear thoughts that I'm not going to get out of this place alive and got ... very religious. He admitted he was "not gentle" with her - "I just sort of threw her over my shoulder and dragged her through the kitchen."