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Opening Bell: 03.28.11

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The $300 Million Blunder (WSJ)
Philippe Jabre, one of Europe's best-known hedge-fund managers, bought Japanese stocks on news of the earthquake, and then suffered when the Nikkei Stock Average quickly tumbled 13%. Making matters worse, Mr. Jabre got nervous and sold his shares last week, just before a rebound in Japanese stocks. The miscues cost his firm about $300 million, the worst few days of his career...By Wednesday, the Nikkei had dropped 13% in four trading days. Several of Mr. Jabre's funds faced losses, one of them as much as 10% for the month. To his traders, Mr. Jabre appeared calm. He wasn't. "I felt horrible, but I don't express happiness or frustrations," he said. "Emotions are the enemy of a balanced person."

Goldman Special Situation Profit Seen at Risk With Volcker Rule (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs already has shut two units that made bets with the company’s money because such proprietary trading by banks will be prohibited under the Volcker rule approved by Congress last year. Created during the late 1990s, SSG invests the bank’s money in the debt and equity of troubled companies and makes loans to high-risk borrowers. The effort to defend it illustrates how important the business is to Goldman Sachs and may be a test of how flexible regulators will be in defining proprietary trading. “It is proprietary trading, but the business can also be modified if you had to,” said Brad Hintz. The question, he said, is “Where will the regulators draw the line?”

Buffett Draws Fervent Fans in India With His Folksy Advice (Dealbook)
At one point, Mr. Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway kept about $10 billion in cash on hand just in case “Ben Bernanke runs off to South America with Lindsay Lohan,” a remark that of course drew laughter. “We have to be prepared for anything.”

Tech Bubble? Investing Like It’s 1999 (NYT)
Funds set up by Goldman and JPMorgan Chase have invested in Internet start-ups like Facebook and Twitter or in funds with stakes in those start-ups. Even the mutual fund giants Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price have stepped up their efforts, placing large bets on companies like Groupon and Zynga. Thomas Weisel, founder of an investment bank called the Thomas Weisel Partners Group that prospered in the first Internet boom, says he is “astounded” by the amount of money now flooding the markets. “I think it’s much greater today,” he said. “The pools of capital that are looking at these Internet companies are far greater today than what you had in 2000.”

Glencore To Seek Hong Kong Listing Approval Thursday (WSJ)
Swiss commodities trader Glencore International AG is scheduled to meet with the Hong Kong stock exchange's listing committee on Thursday to seek approval for its plans for an inital public offering, people familiar with the matter said. Glencore has hired banks to pursue a dual listing in Hong Kong and London to raise up to $10 billion.

KPMG Executive Survey: Worst Is Over (CNBC)
The survey shows 68 percent of manufacturing executives believe business activity will be higher in the next 12 months. That's up from 57 percent in October. Forty-one percent of those same executives say they plan to hire more in the weeks and months ahead. That number was just 28 percent five months ago. As far as revenue is concerned, 65 percent of manufacturers surveyed by KPMG expect revenues to rise in the next year.

Fed Should Consider Curtailing Stimulus Program, Bullard Says (Bloomberg)
“The economy is looking pretty good,” Bullard said to reporters in Marseille, France, on March 26. “It is still reasonable to review QE2 in the coming meetings, especially this April meeting, and see if we want to decide to finish the program or to stop a little bit short,” he said, referring to the second round of so-called quantitative easing.

Felony charge lodged against BK bikini brawler (Herald)
Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson filed formal charges Friday morning against Kimesa Smith, 30, of Montgomery, Ala. She was charged with felony criminal mischief with damage of more than $1,000, two counts of misdemeanor battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Smith was caught on a cell phone video as she climbed onto the restaurant’s counter, threw items and struck employees March 19. She damaged one of the restaurant’s $3,800 LED screens and a cash register, authorities said. The video shows Smith standing on the counter to shout at a cashier she’d argued with in the drive-through moments earlier. About halfway through the 101-second clip, the dining room explodes with flying napkins, trays, straws, food and what appears to be either a child’s booster seat or a large water bottle.

CEOs Tap Record Cash for Dividends as M&A Picks Up (Bloomberg)
Takeovers topped $256 billion this quarter, the most since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies authorized 38 percent more buybacks in 2011 than a year earlier and dividends may increase to a record $31.07 a share in 2013, data compiled by Birinyi Associates Inc. and Bloomberg show.

Money Pours Into Mines (WSJ)
Companies such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto PLC and Vale SA are boosting capital investment but running into various head winds, which are slowing their ability to greatly boost output of iron ore, coal and copper. As a result, prices of those commodities are expected to remain high, with some forecast to climb even higher over the next two years.

Goldman Switch Irks Clearwire Directors (WSJ)
Board members of Clearwire Corp. believed they had secured some of the best bankers in the business when, last summer, they hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise them on their most pressing strategic issue: Should they sell to wireless carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. or not? Then the Goldman bankers got in touch in February with bad news. They were resigning the Clearwire assignment for a new job: working for Sprint, Clearwire's majority owner and, from Clearwire's point of view, a possible buyer of the rest of Clearwire.

Lehman Minibond Investors Offered Higher Payout After Hong Kong Protests (Bloomberg)
Hong Kong holders of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.-linked structured notes may get as much as 96.5 percent of their money back as banks make a second attempt to settle a dispute that forced them to change the way they sell investment products.

Charlie Sheen Gets Help Buying A Home From Lenny Dykstra (TMZ)
According to real estate records, Sheen closed Friday on a $7 million house located in the exclusive Mulholland Estates. Sources say when it came to getting financing, Sheen asked none other than Lenny Dykstra for help. Lenny worked as Charlie's middleman to secure a loan.