Opening Bell: 03.10.11

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Tokyo Exchange Plans Merger Talks With Osaka, IPO (Bloomberg)
Tokyo Stock Exchange Group Inc., which runs the world’s second-largest equity market, plans to hold merger discussions with Osaka Securities Exchange Co. The 133-year-old exchange is interested in acquiring Osaka Securities, which operates a derivatives trading system with Nikkei 225 Stock Average futures, President Atsushi Saito said in an interview today. The Tokyo Stock Exchange will also start preparing an initial share sale after reporting its earnings for the period ending March, he said.

Lawyers Make First Pitches To Jurors (WSJ)
Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam used a "corrupt network" of consultants, company insiders and associates to obtain inside information, generating tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits, a U.S. prosecutor said. In an opening statement at a packed courtroom in New York federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Streeter said the defendant used corrupt insiders to get "tomorrow's business news today." Gesturing toward Mr. Rajaratnam, who wore a gray suit and a blue tie, Mr. Streeter said the case centers on "greed and corruption." John Dowd, a lawyer for Mr. Rajaratnam, said his client did nothing wrong and traded only on publicly available information and research by his hedge-fund firm. The government has it wrong and "failed to do its homework," Mr. Dowd told jurors.

Moody's Downgrades Spain (AP)
The agency reduced Spain's rating by one notch to Aa2 and warned that a further downgrade is possible if indications emerge that Spain's fiscal targets will be missed, and if the public debt ratio increases more rapidly than currently expected. Moody's also warned that concerns could rise if funding requirements for Spain's troubled savings banks end up greater than anticipated.

China Posts Largest Trade Deficit In 7 Years (Reuters)
It was China's first trade deficit since March last year and its biggest since February 2004. Economists had expected a small surplus of $4.95 billion. "Both imports and exports are lower than expected, and seasonal factors alone can't explain the sharp monthly drop," said Xu Biao, economist with China Merchants Bank in Shenzhen. "It is definitely not a good sign. The size of imports is already read as a measure of domestic demand. But now imports have dropped significantly, and it points to a serious weakening in domestic economic activity," he said.

Fortress Said to Start Asia Macro Hedge Fund Run by Levinson (Bloomberg)
Fortress started an Asia- focused macro hedge fund that it aims to grow to $500 million, three people with knowledge of the plan said. The fund is set to attract more money starting in April, when investors make their allocations, the people said.

China and Russia drive growth in world's billionaires (Reuters)
Rising steel and oil prices in Russia, more honest disclosure in Brazil and booming economies in China and India have fueled a spike in billionaires in the so-called BRIC countries. Moscow is now home to the most billionaires with 79, followed by New York with 58, Forbes said in its annual list of the world's richest people.

Charlie Sheen gets more than 74,000 applications for internship (NYP)
Charlie Sheen received more than 74,000 applications from candidates interested in his eight-week social media internship, according to a new report. Earlier this week, Sheen got his first paid Twitter gig -- pitching for Internships.com as part of his efforts to cash in on his fast-growing presence on Twitter. His paid message, which appeared Monday, featured a posting for a full-time, summer "social media intern" for the troubled actor. "I'm looking to hire a #Winning INTERN with #TigerBlood," read Sheen's tweet.

HCA Holdings Raises $3.79 Billion in Initial Public Offering (BW)
HCA, based in Nashville, Tennessee, sold 126.2 million shares at $30 each, the top of the proposed range, the company said yesterday in a statement. The underwriters may exercise an overallotment option to buy as many as 18.9 million additional shares within 30 days, the company said. HCA sold 87.7 million shares, while existing investors sold 38.5 million.

More Grandmothers Working During US 'Man-cession' (CNBC)
4.3 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 54 no longer consider themselves part of the work force. At the same time, nearly 2 million Americans 55-years or older have tuned in and joined the workforce. Inside this latter group, more than half a million women between the ages of 62 and 64 have joined the workforce. Over the time period we looked at (from October, 2008 to February, 2011) this was the fastest growing demographic.

Man cut haircut short to use scissors in stabbing (Stamford Advocate via DI)
A 21-year-old man sitting down for a haircut allegedly grabbed scissors and slashed another in the back Tuesday in the South End, police said. David Davis, pictured above, was arrested shortly after the incident when Stamford patrol officers and a police dog found him in a nearby Henry Street apartment. Officers took him into custody when they initially found he was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in court and later charged him in the stabbing after an investigation, Stamford Police Capt. Richard Conklin said. The victim, identified as a 21-year-old Stamford man, was taken to Stamford Hospital to receive treatment for his wound. In a statement, police said Davis was getting a haircut at 126 Henry St. when the victim approached in what Davis called an "aggressive manner," so he picked up scissors to protect himself. Davis slashed the man in the back, police said.

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