Opening Bell: 03.01.11

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Goldman Sachs Says It Lost Money On 25 Days Of Trading In 2010 (Bloomberg)
After incurring losses on trades during 12 days in the first 9 months, the full-year figures indicate that Goldman Sachs lost money on 13 days in the fourth quarter. The firm’s traders also made $100 million or more on 68 days in 2010, down from the record 131 days in 2009, according to the New York- based company’s annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Traders exceeded the firm-wide “value-at-risk” limit, or VaR, on one occasion during 2010 “to facilitate a client transaction,” according to the filing.

Goldman Puts Figure On Possible Litigation Costs (WSJ)
Goldman could lose as much as $3.4 billion in damages and other litigation-related matters involving securities it underwrote in the last few years for which the purchasers are now suing to recover losses or to force the firm to buy them back. In a securities filing Tuesday, Goldman estimated that the figure, in the upper range of estimates, was "reasonably possible."

Fannie, Freddie Caught In Vicious Circle On Dividends (WSJ)
The requirement that both companies pay a 10% dividend on preferred shares—which the U.S. government receives for its infusions after taking over Fannie and Freddie in 2008—costs them about $15 billion a year at the current rate. In the last two quarters, the firms have paid $7.5 billion in total dividend payments, while receiving injections of $5.7 billion to help keep them in business. The dividends could force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to keep asking the Treasury Department for more money even after the companies get back into the black, helped by lower losses on mortgages and profits from newer loans. U.S. officials have said those payments are an appropriate way to repay taxpayers.

Jack Welch: Obama Move To The Center Is All Talk So Far (CNBC)
"The tack to the center is verbal, it's not actionable," Welch said. "Let's hope he's moving to the center," he added. "But from what I see—unionizing 43,000 TSA workers on a Friday and giving a speech (to the US Chamber of Commerce) Monday morning—show me the money."

Sheen's Publicist Quits As Actor Says On TV He's Drug Free (Bloomberg)
Stan Rosenfield, the publicist for Charlie Sheen, said he resigned from the role because he is no longer able to work effectively for his client. In an interview with NBC’s Jeff Rosen, Sheen said he would return for a ninth season of “Two and a Half Men,” the most- watched comedy on TV, only if the producers give him a raise to $3 million an episode. In response to a question, Sheen acknowledged receiving roughly $2 million in salary and royalties from reruns. “I’m underpaid right now,” Sheen said on the “Today” show, describing himself as a “rock star from Mars.”

Treasury To Sell $2.7 Billion Of Ally Trust Securities (AP)
The Treasury hopes to take back more taxpayer money through an initial public offering of the former General Motors finance arm, which received $17.2 billion during the financial crisis. The government owns 74 percent of the company through holdings of common stock.

JPMorgan Twitter Deal Is Said To Value Start-up At $4.5 Billion (Bloomberg)
The bank has invested in a fund that has bought about $400 million in Twitter Inc. shares, valuing the blogging service at as much as $4.5 billion, three people with knowledge of the matter said. The fund, which has more than $1 billion, is being run by Twitter investor Chris Sacca.

Muni Industry Optimistic About State Revenues Recovery (FT)
Many of those surveyed in a poll by RBC Capital Markets have become more confident about the effect of a US economic recovery on local tax revenues. Some 27 percent of the 100 municipal bond issuers, bankers and lawyers questioned at a recent conference sponsored by The Bond Buyer expect it will take two years for state and local government revenues to return to pre-crisis levels. This compares with just 3 percent in a similar survey last October.

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