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Opening Bell: 04.11.11

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Obama Girds for Struggle With Republicans Over Debt Limit (Bloomberg)
The U.S. government is projected to slam into the $14.3 trillion legal cap on government borrowing sometime this spring. As the price of their vote to allow the government to go further into debt, congressional Republicans are demanding far deeper cuts than the $38 billion they got last week in the deal to fund the government for the last six months of the 2011 fiscal year. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would have much more dire consequences than a shutdown, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner predicting last week that it would “call into question the willingness of the government of the United States to meet its obligations,” and “shake the basic foundations of the entire global financial system.”

PIMCO goes short US government debt, raises cash holdings (Reuters)
The portion of PIMCO's $236 billion Total Return Fund held in U.S. government debt, including U.S. Treasuries, was -3 percent of total assets in the fund as of March, down from zero in February.

JPMorgan Accused Of Breaking Its Duty To Clients (NYT)
In the summer of 2007, as the first tremors of the coming financial crisis were being felt on Wall Street, top executives of JPMorgan Chase were raising red flags about a troubled investment vehicle called Sigma, which was based in London. But the bank chose not to move out $500 million in client assets that it had put into Sigma two months earlier. Sigma collapsed a year later. Now, new documents unsealed late last month as part of a lawsuit by bank clients against JPMorgan show for the first time just how high the warnings about Sigma went — all the way to the office of the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon. While the clients lost nearly all their money, JPMorgan collected nearly $1.9 billion from Sigma’s demise, according to the suit.

China Inflation Is `Somewhat Out of Control’ on Weak Currency, Soros Says (Bloomberg)
“It would be very advantageous to allow the currency to appreciate as a way of controlling inflation,” Soros said. “The authorities missed that opportunity. You now have inflation somewhat out of control, and causing some serious danger of wage-price inflation.”

NYSE Rejects Nasdaq Offer (WSJ)
In a statement Sunday, NYSE Euronext called the bid by Nasdaq and partner IntercontinentalExchange Inc. "strategically unattractive" and entailing "unacceptable execution risk." The NYSE reaffirmed its commitment to a $9.7 billion merger with Deutsche Börse announced in February, itself fraught with political and antitrust issues in both Europe and the U.S.

Nomura’s Stock-Backed Loans Jump 50% as Japan Quake Spurs Demand for Cash (Bloomberg)
Daily loan transactions jumped to about 150 from 100 and credit volume also climbed 50 percent as customers sought funds following the disaster, Naoshi Sakai, an executive director of Tokyo-based Nomura’s banking and trust agency services unit, said in an interview.

U.K.’s ‘Moderate’ Bank Report Calls for More Capital, Sales (Bloomberg)
“The universal banks such as RBS and Barclays fare best from the report,” said Joseph Dickerson, a banking analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank. “The key negative in the report is the prospect of further branch divestitures at Lloyds which is currently unquantifiable.”

From Behind Bars, Madoff Spins His Story (FT)
He says he gets lots of mail from well-wishers, but no hate mail. “I spend most of my time in my room, reading,” he adds. “And – this is my secret – Danielle Steel.” We all laugh. “Yes, Danielle Steel.”

Economists See Growth Accelerating Later This Year (WSJ)
On average, the 56 economists polled downgraded their estimate of first-quarter growth in gross domestic product to 2.7% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. That is down from an average first-quarter forecast of 3.6% just two months ago. The economy grew at a 3.1% rate in the fourth quarter.

Economist: Spain Will Not Escape Europe's Debt Woes (CNBC)
“The fact is that nobody knows whether the country (Spain) will need external help in the months that lie ahead. But what everybody knows is that the European Central Bank’s decision to raise interest rates will intensify its difficulties,” said Roger Nightingale, a global economist at Pointon York in London in a note to clients.

Glencore Eyes Big Mergers After IPO (FT)
CEO Glasenberg told the Financial Times that the launch of the offering – the largest ever in London – was “imminent” after it received robust support from big institutional investors. Glencore plans to sell a 20 per cent stake worth about $10 billion-$12 billion, valuing the whole company at around $60 billion, bankers said.

Insider Trading in China Thrives With Selectively Disclosed Economic Data (Bloomberg)
“In China, it’s better to be prepared than to be surprised,” said Shi, 42, an investment manager with Nanjing 21st Century Investment Group, a property developer in eastern China. “There is a window for speculation.”