Opening Bell: 04.08.11

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Obama Demands Budget Deal To Avert Government Shutdown (Bloomberg)
fter meeting with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Obama said issues remained unresolved and he hoped for a breakthrough that would prevent a shutdown, set to begin at midnight tonight. “I’m not yet prepared to express wild optimism but I think we are further along,” he told reporters. “My hope is, is that I’ll be able to announce to the American people sometime relatively early in the day that a shutdown has been averted.”

SEC May Relax Limits On Shares In Private Firms (WSJ)
According to the letter and people familiar with the matter, the likely changes would include raising from 499 the number of shareholders private companies can have without being required to open their books, and also making it easier for such companies to publicize share offerings.

Portugal To Face Strict EU Aid Terms Amid Political Storm (Bloomberg)
In an unprecedented intervention in national politics, euro-area finance ministers said Portugal can win relief by mid- May as long as it makes cuts that go beyond measures that failed to pass parliament in March and led to the government’s downfall.

EU Stress Tests To Examine 90 Banks, 5% Capital Pass Rate (Bloomberg)
“Make no mistake, 5 percent of Core Tier 1 is harder in comparison with last year,” James Babicz, head of risk at SAS, a business analytics company, said in telephone interview in London today. “But I think you have to look at how risky a bank is rather than look at a static capital threshold.”

Marc Faber: Gold Is Still Cheap Despite Record Surge (CNBC)
Faber rejected the notion that gold is in a bubble even as it begins to approach $1,500 an ounce. "If it were a bubble a lot of people would have gold. The whole world would be trading gold 24 hours a day," he said. "But I don't think it's really a bubble. I think gold is maybe cheaper today than it was in 1999, when it was $252.

Why London Can Live Without Its Big Banks (Reuters)
"One or two of them might change their corporate headquarters for tax purposes but if they do go we probably won't even notice. There won't be a great outflow of workers and Canary Wharf won't turn into a ghost town."

Corporate Jets Often First Thing To Go After Leveraged Buyouts (Bloomberg)
Companies bought by private-equity firms are 32 percent less likely to have a jet in the three years after the deal closes than in the year before, according to a paper written by the Federal Reserve Board’s Jesse Edgerton. The study, published Jan. 21, found that jet fleets at LBO-backed companies are at least 40 percent smaller than at similar publicly traded firms.

Jefferies Expands (Breakingviews)
Jefferies' lineup now includes municipal bonds and an enlarged investment bank. Staffing has increased by more than a third since the financial crisis struck. Now it’s adding commodities and futures, by buying Prudential Bache for $430 million. Jefferies is still far from joining the big boys. Net profit last year was just $280 million, far less than what Goldman harvested. There’s still scope to grow, however. New hires arguably have not yet settled in enough to crank out their full earnings potential. Shareholders appear to have baked in a better relative performance at Jefferies: the stock trades at about 1.7 times book value, double Morgan Stanley’s multiple and a third better than Goldman’s.

An Aggressive Fed? More Of Street Betting On It (Reuters)
The survey found that about a third of the economists, fund managers and strategists who responded to the survey see the Fed hiking interest rates this year, double the percentage from the March survey. About 27 percent believe the Fed will begin selling assets in the second half of 2011, to reduce the size of its portfolio, up from around 16 percent in the prior survey.

How To Pay No Taxes (BusinessWeek)
Some tips.

Asian Central Banks Intervene As Currencies Rise (WSJ)
Asian currencies rose against the dollar Friday, prompting a number of regional central banks to intervene, as the U.S. currency fell over that nation's budget woes and a rise in the euro spurred the region's currencies higher. The move follows Thursday's rate increase by the European Central Bank, its first tightening since 2008. While the move was widely expected, it suggests world economic growth will continue to improve.

Speed Trading May Be Heading Out To Sea, Literally (CNBC)
In many cases, the best places to maximize chances of buying low in one place and selling high in another (for example between New York and London) were located in the world's oceans. So could this be the end of traditional fixed stock exchanges in the world's biggest cities and the rise of floating exchanges in the mid-Atlantic ocean? Wissner-Gross believes that floating trade centers could be a reality of the future.

Related

Opening Bell: 05.04.12

BofA Sees $5 Billion Collateral Need in Credit Downgrade (Bloomberg) A two-level downgrade of long-term senior debt ratings would have prompted the bank to post about $5.1 billion of collateral tied to derivatives contracts and other trading agreements as of March 31, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm said yesterday in a regulatory filing. It would have had to post an additional $1.1 billion of collateral if trading partners opted to tear up contracts in a two-level cut. RBS claims 'pleasing progress' though loss triples (AP) RBS, 82-percent owned by the British government after a massive bailout in the global the financial crisis, posted a 2011 first quarter net loss of £528 million. The lender said losses soared owing to an increase in the value of its outstanding debt to £2.46 billion. "As RBS's credit spreads tightened during the quarter, a charge of £2,456 million was booked for (our) own credit adjustments," RBS said in a statement. But the bank's underlying performance was brighter, with RBS posting a first quarter operating profit of £1.18 billion. RBS also confirmed that it would repay the last of emergency state loans totalling £163 billion but the British government will still own almost all of the bank after a £45.5 billion bailout following the 2008 financial crisis. "The start of 2012 has shown pleasing progress at RBS within the context of a flat economic environment," chief executive Stephen Hester said in the statement. Employers in U.S. Added Fewer Jobs Than Forecast in April (Bloomberg) Payrolls climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months, after a revised 154,000 gain in March that was larger than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 160,000 advance. The jobless rate fell to a three-year low of 8.1 percent, and earnings stagnated. Facebook Targets $96 Billion Value (WSJ) With the pricing, Facebook is anticipated to raise as much as $13.6 billion, above earlier expectations of $10 billion. In a regulatory filing, Facebook said the company would seek to sell 337.4 million shares, with about half of those being sold by founders, employees and investors. The only U.S. issuers that have raised more money in an IPO were Visa Inc. at $19.7 billion in 2008 and General Motors Co. at $18.1 billion in 2010. Zuckerberg Facebook IPO to Make Him Richer Than Ballmer (Bloomberg) So that's exciting. Warren Buffett Has 'No Plans To Invest In Facebook IPO' (CNBC) When asked whether the current attention surrounding Internet IPOs reminded him of the tech stock bubble of the late 1990s, the Oracle of Omaha said, “It is not a bubble ... this is not what we were seeing in late 1999 all the way into 2001. We aren’t in any bubble phase of anything.” Inmates Dance, Deputy Fired (OBJ) Some inmates did the worm, others chose the old school robot. Each dance was performed to the beat of hip-hop artist Usher on command from a now-fired Summit County deputy. The inmate prize: use of a jail microwave. The charges are revealed in an internal affairs report released Wednesday. Deputy Dominic Martucci, 35, was fired for violating the department’s policies, including a mandate that inmates be treated humanely. Martucci is accused of ordering five inmates dance to Usher’s Yeah! song and then inviting other deputies to watch during an early evening shift on April 11. The inmates danced their way to regaining use of a microwave that they had lost earlier that day. Fitch CEO: US Downgrade Not Likely Before Election (CNBC) "We currently have the U.S. on a negative outlook, which actually suggests we think there is the potential for a downgrade," Taylor said in an interview. "It's too early to tell whether that will turn into an actual downgrade or not,” he said. “We think we still need to see what's going to happen through the elections and what actions are put in place subsequent to the elections. I think it's very clear that the U.S. does need to do something to deal with the debt problems built up since the financial crisis," he added. New Ripples For Gupta Case (WSJ) Mr. Gupta's criminal trial for securities fraud and conspiracy is scheduled to begin May 21 and expected to last about three weeks. Mr. Gupta has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Gary Naftalis, declined to comment for this article but previously has called the accusations "totally baseless." The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office also declined to comment. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have taken note of the spike in trading in Goldman, which began as the firm's board concluded a special meeting to approve the deal that afternoon, according to people familiar with the matter. Galleon traders also noticed the climbing stock, conversations recorded on government wiretaps show. "Someone had this before us, someone, whatever went on, something happened," Galleon trader Ian Horowitz told Mr. Rajaratnam in a phone call the next morning, caught on tape by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Goldman Readies Low-Cost Bond PLatform (WSJ) Goldman is preparing to roll out a bond-trading platform on which it will charge lower fees than on typical bond trades, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could help retain customers tempted by rival trading venues being set up by BlackRock Inc. and others. AIG Invests $7.4 Billion at 5.3% to Boost Returns, Adds RMBS (Bloomberg) “We continue to be opportunistic with our investments in structured securities in order to improve yields, increase net investment income and offset the impact of a lower interest rate environment,” Wintrob said. BofA Talks Deal On Ex-Broker Pay (WSJ) The former Merrill brokers left the firm after the 2009 takeover by Bank of America and claim they are owed deferred compensation as a result of the deal. They were emboldened last month by an arbitration ruling ordering the Charlotte, N.C., company to pay more than $11 million to two former brokers with related complaints.