Opening Bell: 02.08.11

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Gold May Get Boost From Increased Collateral Use, MF Global Says (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan yesterday said it will accept bullion “to satisfy securities lending and repo obligations” as more clients seek to use gold as an inflation hedge and to post as collateral...“The announcement should be slightly positive for gold prices, as it further grows the belief that gold is a currency and has more uses than simply acting as a safe haven or portfolio diversifier,” Tom Pawlicki, an analyst at MF Global in Chicago, said today in a report.

Meredith Whitney's Muni Bond Prediction Draws Scrutiny (NYT)
“I’ve seen a copy of the report, and frankly, I’ve seen better papers from graduate students in finance,” said Richard P.Larkin, director of credit analysis at Herbert J.Sims & Company, a municipal bond broker and underwriter. “It’s ludicrous, reckless and irresponsible, and it’s being done without any regard for the consequences.”

Goldman Sachs Turns Bullish on European Banks Bond Market Shuns (Bloomberg)
The bank is telling investors to buy European bank stocks for the first time in more than 16 months. Bond buyers are taking the opposite view on concern that policy makers will fail to staunch the debt crisis.

Rep Ryan: Fed Should Raise Rates (CNBC)
"I'm worried they're not going to pre-empt inflation," Ryan said. "I'm worried they're going to see it too late and we're going to have a problem."

Obama Urges Businesses To Increase Spending For Good Of The Country (Bloomberg)
“As we work with you to make America a better place to do business, I’m hoping that all of you are thinking what you can do for America,” Obama said. “Ask yourselves what you can do to hire more American workers, what you can do to support the American economy and invest in this nation.”

Behind The Bond Crisis Brouhaha (NYP)
Charlie Gasparino has a theory: "My sources in Washington say the left sees the writing on the wall: A more conservative electorate means less money from Washington to finance the various welfare schemes and public-sector unions. What better way to keep the federal gravy train running than to use predictions of another financial collapse to dismiss the budget-cutting progress made by such governors as New Jersey's Chris Christie?"

Florida Bans Cocaine-Like Bath Salt (NPR)
"For lack of a better term, they're flipped out. It's almost like a psychotic break. They're extremely anxious and combative, they think there's stuff trying to get them, they're paranoid, they're having hallucinations. So, the encounters are not pleasant," Ryan says. "And we were finding that some of these guys couldn't be sedated with the normal drugs that we would use with other stimulants."

Banks Reach Out To Small Firms (WSJ)
"We found that small-business people have to eat, too," says Rick Hartnack, U.S. Bancorp's vice chairman for consumer banking. During the past two years, U.S. Bancorp also has added more than 100 private bankers who can sell loans and other products to doctors, lawyers and other small-business owners.

Cash Buyers Boost Battered Housing Market (WSJ)
Nationally, 28% of sales were all-cash transactions last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The rate was 14% in October 2008, when the trade group began tracking the measure.

UBS Optimistic On Attracting More Client Funds In 2011 (Bloomberg)
“We are optimistic that overall positive net new money inflows will continue in the first quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Oswald Gruebel and Chairman Kaspar Villiger said in a letter to shareholders today. “For the full year, we believe that net new money will strengthen noticeably.”

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Opening Bell: 11.21.12

Germany Hints At More Financing (WSJ) Germany on Wednesday signaled its willingness to provide additional financing for the euro zone's bailout fund and accept lower interest on loans to Athens, in order to get the Greek rescue back on track and free the next tranche of about €44 billion ($56.40 billion) in loans for the euro zone's weakest member. Merkel Sees Chance For Greek Deal Monday (Reuters) "I believe there are chances, one doesn't know for sure, but there are chances to get a solution on Monday," Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament in a debate on the German budget. But the longing for one act, one miracle solution, one truth that means all our problems are gone tomorrow...this will not be fulfilled. What was neglected over years, over decades, cannot be taken care of overnight and therefore we will need to continue to move step by step." H-P Says It Was Duped (WSJ) The technology giant said that an internal investigation had revealed "serious accounting improprieties" and "outright misrepresentations" in connection with U.K. software maker Autonomy, which H-P acquired for $11.1 billion in October 2011. "There appears to have been a willful sustained effort" to inflate Autonomy's revenue and profitability, said Chief Executive Meg Whitman. "This was designed to be hidden." Michael Lynch, Autonomy's founder and former CEO, fired back hours later, denying improper accounting and accusing H-P of trying to hide its mismanagement. "We completely reject the allegations," said Mr. Lynch, who left H-P earlier this year. "As soon as there is some flesh put on the bones we will show they are not true." Analysts Had Questioned Autonomy’s Accounting Years Ago (CNBC) Paul Morland, technology research analyst at broking and advisory house Peel Hunt, told CNBC that he had noticed three red flags in Autonomy’s accounts in the years leading up to the HP acquisition: poor cash conversion, an inflated organic growth rate, and the categorizing of hardware sales as software. London Bankers Become Landlords as Rents Hit Record (Bloomberg) Vivek Jeswani became a landlord by accident when Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) transferred him to New York two weeks after he moved into a new home in central London. Now back in the U.K., Jeswani views the apartment in Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes, as one of his best assets and is about to buy another home to expand his rental business. “There are no other investments as attractive and you’ve got some security if you’ve got an asset you can use yourself,” the 36-year-old risk officer at China Construction Bank Corp.’s U.K. unit said. “There’s a good yield over 5 percent and being in central London, you’ve got demand domestically and internationally.” Trading Charges Reach SAC (WSJ) The hedge funds reaped $276 million in profits and losses avoided based on that information, criminal and civil authorities said—far dwarfing that of any previous insider-trading case. The bulk of the trading profits generated by Mr. Martoma was paid to Mr. Cohen, a person close to the hedge fund said. Fed Still Trying To Push Down Rates (WSJ) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank will keep trying to push down long-term interest rates in 2013, as federal tax and spending policies become a more substantial headwind to the U.S. economy. "We will continue to do our best to add monetary-policy support to the recovery," Mr. Bernanke said at the New York Economic Club, answering a question about how the Federal Reserve would respond to impending spending cuts or tax increases that might restrain economic growth. 'Stiletto Surgery' alters pinky toe for better fit (Fox) These days, some women will do just about anything to fit into their favorite pair of high heels – including surgery. A growing number of women are paying thousands of dollars to surgically alter their feet just to make wearing heels a more comfortable experience. Surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes are on the rise. “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” said Susan Deming, a patient who recently underwent a toe-shortening procedure. Adoboli’s Fate Decided at Wine Bar as UBS Market Bets Unraveled (Bloomberg) On a cool late summer evening last year in London’s financial district, with the euro-zone crisis worsening and Greece tottering on the edge of default, Kweku Adoboli says he asked the three traders who worked with him at UBS AG’s exchange-traded funds desk to join him for a drink. Adoboli said in a post on his Facebook page that he needed “a miracle” as his bets on the market imploded. That night at a wine bar across the street from their office, Adoboli asked John Hughes, the senior trader on the ETF desk, and two junior traders, what to do. The others decided he should take the blame for billions of dollars in losses and an elaborate web of secret trades in what he called an umbrella account that once held $40 million in hidden profits. “I knew I was going to lose my job anyway, I had already resigned myself to that, so fair enough,” the 32-year-old Adoboli testified last month about the meeting, which the other traders deny took place. Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease (Bloomberg) Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as damage to the labor market caused by superstorm Sandy began to subside. Jobless claims decreased by 41,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Nov. 17, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The number of applications matched the median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Soros Buying Gold as Record Prices Seen on Stimulus (Bloomberg) The metal will rise every quarter next year and average $1,925 an ounce in the final three months, or 11 percent more than now, according to the median of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Paulson & Co. has a $3.66 billion bet through the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed exchange- traded product, and Soros Fund Management LLC increased its holdings by 49 percent in the third quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. 'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle planned to to cook up 'some girl meat' on Thanksgiving (NYDN) The "Cannibal Cop" had his own twist for a Thanksgiving dinner this year — cooking up “some girl meat,” prosecutors revealed Tuesday. Gilberto Valle, 28 — who allegedly kept a database of at least 100 women he plotted to rape, cook and eat — planned the freakish feast with one of his online conspirators earlier this year, prosecutors said. “I’m planning on getting me some girl meat,” he wrote to his pal on Feb. 9. “Really tell me more,” responded the friend. “It’s this November, for Thanksgiving. It’s a long way off but I’m getting the plan in motion now,” Valle wrote.