Opening Bell: 02.22.11


BofA Doubles Writedown for Credit-Card Unit to $20.3 Billion (Bloomberg)
“This is another sign that the quality of the bank’s consumer-credit book is weaker than what they previously indicated,” said Tony Plath, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “It’s a huge number, and the way they’re disclosing it erodes the bank’s credibility. Why are we waiting until 2011 to do an impairment charge for two years ago?”

Saudi Oil Minister: "We Will Protect Supply" (CNBC)
"The market knows that Saudi has a good chunky excess capacity and a record of using it when needed," Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud said in an interview. "There is no qualms, what needs to prevail is no shortage of supply," said the prince, who is hosting a meeting of ministers from the world's major oil producers.

IEA Chief: $100 Oil 'Very, Very Bad' for Economy (Reuters)
"That is our concern, regardless of the margins of disruption, if the $100 per barrel of oil is continued in 2011, the burden of oil to the global economy is as bad as 2008," Nobuo Tanaka, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency said.

Italy Exchange Halted for `Technical Issues' After Plunge (Bloomberg)
Trading on the Italian exchange remained halted because of “technical issues” after the benchmark FTSE MIB Index fell the most in eight months yesterday on concern Libya’s unrest may affect Italian companies. Borsa Italiana SpA, owned by London Stock Exchange Group Plc, said in a statement on its website that “restoring operations” are underway after stocks failed to open and the futures market was halted at 12:10 p.m. All markets are suspended, the Milan bourse said in a separate statement.

US Arrests Credit Suisse Banker In Tax Probe (FT)
Christos Bagios was arrested about two weeks ago on entering the US and is in transit to a detention centre in southern Florida, according to the Bureau of Prisons’ website and people familiar with the matter. In December, Renzo Gadola, the first UBS banker to be charged since the settlement, admitted to conspiring to help wealthy US clients evade paying taxes. Mr Gadola worked at UBS from 1995 to 2008.

FDIC May Sue Former WaMu Execs (WSJ)
The FDIC has discussed damages of $1 billion in relation to the potential Washington Mutual lawsuit, says a person familiar with the matter. The person said a decision against former executives of WaMu, the largest institution to be seized by regulators during the financial crisis, could be made within the next 30 days. It is unclear which former WaMu executives would be charged.

Moody's Cuts Japan's Outlook (WSJ)
Moody's sent a warning to Japan's political leadership Tuesday, announcing that it was cutting the outlook on the nation's Aa2 bond rating to negative from stable, citing the political gridlock that is dimming chances for action soon to rein in the nation's ballooning debt load.

Thin Mint melee lands Naples woman in jail (ABC)
A Naples woman was arrested Sunday after deputies say she attacked her roommate over a box of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Hersha Howard was charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Howard's roommate, Jasmin Wanke, told deputies she was asleep when Howard burst into her bedroom and accused her of eating the cookies...The women began to argue, then Howard reportedly jumped on top of Wanke and struck her in the face. The two continued to fight until Wanke's husband separated them. When Wanke walked out of the bedroom, Howard grabbed a pair of scissors and began chasing and threatening Wanke, the report said. As women ran down the stairs, Howard reportedly dropped the scissors, picked up a board and struck Wanke.

BHP To Buy Chesapeake Shale Assets (WSJ)
BHP Billiton Ltd. said Monday it is acquiring Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Fayetteville shale gas holdings in Arkansas and some pipeline assets in a deal totaling about $4.75 billion in cash.

New Zealand's Currency Tumbles After Christchurch Earthquake (Bloomberg)
The so-called kiwi slid versus all 16 of its major counterparts as buildings around the city were damaged by the temblor, which followed a quake in September that was the worst in 80 years.

With 'Testosterone Zones,' Muscled Commando, Dr. Pepper Looks to Avoid Earlier Marketing Missteps by Pepsi Max, Coke Zero (AA)
Dr Pepper Ten was created for 25- to 34-year-old men who prefer regular Dr Pepper but want fewer calories. And its inclusion of 10 calories, rather than zero like its competitors, allowed it to deliver a flavor closer to the regular version, Mr. Fleming says...A mobile "Man Cave" will also travel to each of six test markets, including Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Antonio and Austin, Texas. The branded trailer will set up in "testosterone zones" such as ball fields or car shows and give men a place to watch TV and play video games