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Opening Bell: 04.26.11

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Financiers Switch To GOP (WSJ)
Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, was one of the biggest Obama fund-raisers in 2008, rounding up $200,000 for him, according to campaign-finance records. In the decade prior, Mr. Loeb and his wife donated $250,000 to Democrats and less than $10,000 to Republicans. But since Mr. Obama's inauguration, Mr. Loeb has given $468,000 to Republican candidates and the GOP, and just $8,000 to Democrats. Hedge-fund kings have feelings, too, and the president appears to have hurt them...Mr. Loeb is part of a shift in political allegiance within the world of hedge funds that also includes such big names as Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors and Kenneth Griffin's Citadel Investment Group. Managers and employees of hedge funds directed a majority of their contributions to the GOP in the 2009-2010 election season, a pattern not seen since 1996, when the industry was much smaller.

UBS Attracts Highest Inflows Since 2007 as Profit Tops Estimates (Bloomberg)
UBS rose as much as 6.1 percent in Swiss trading, the biggest gain since July, after wealth management and retail clients added a net 16.7 billion francs ($19 billion), more than double the estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income was 1.81 billion francs, topping the 1.69 billion-franc forecast of analysts...“The main thing is they’re having inflows again, and that’s good,” said Dirk Becker, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Kepler Capital Markets. “The investment bank will remain a construction site for UBS for a while.”

Qaddafi’s Money Man in Vienna Loses Funds With London Friends (Bloomberg)
As Muammar Qaddafi’s forces strafed crowds of protesters in Tripoli with automatic gunfire on Feb. 21, the dictator’s money manager fled the city in a car to the airport to escape the violence. With phone lines and Internet connections down, Mustafa Zarti, vice chairman of Libya’s $65 billion sovereign-wealth fund, couldn’t buy an airline ticket in advance. As mobs of travelers at the airport jostled for seats on packed flights, Zarti scored a spot in business class on Austrian Airlines and flew to Vienna, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its June issue. “It was catastrophic that day,” Zarti says. “I’m very sad for Libya.”

Boehner opens door to cutting U.S. oil tax breaks (Reuters)
"It's certainly something we should be looking at," Boehner said in an ABC News interview. "We're in a time when the federal government's short on revenues. They ought to be paying their fair share." "Everybody wants to go after the oil companies and frankly, they've got some part of this to blame," he said.

Biggest Banks Beating Estimates Can’t Hide 13% Drop in Revenue (Bloomberg)
“Loans still make up half of bank revenues and loan growth is negative,” Brian Foran and Glenn Schorr, analysts at Nomura Holdings Inc. in New York, wrote in an April 14 note. “We have spent the last few weeks on the road visiting investors. The overwhelming feedback on banks has been ‘Why bother?’”

NY Jurors Can't See Graphics Again In Insider Case (BusinessWeek)
The jurors at the trial of Raj Rajaratnam began working at midday Monday after a federal judge in Manhattan described the law they must follow. They ended four hours later and will resume Tuesday. They asked to see defense exhibits they didn't know they already had in binders and graphs prosecutors showed during closings but they can't see again because they're not exhibits.

NYSE Merger Plan Tunes Out Big Board Rules (Dealbook)
Without so much as having a brief meeting or discussion with Nasdaq and ICE on their bid — which offered over 13 percent more than Deutsche Börse’s bid — the board of NYSE Euronext declared the offer “clearly not in the best interests of our shareholders.” How could the board determine that without even having a conversation?

HSBC to close retail operations in Russia (FT)
“It’s a difficult market in Russia. You can’t just come in and say, ‘I’m HSBC’, ” said an executive at a rival Russian bank.

Fight Heats Up For Lehman Remains (WSJ)
A three-way battle over the remnants of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is coming to a head, as the defunct investment bank's estate fights with big-name hedge funds like Paulson & Co and Lehman's former archrival Goldman Sachs. over how to divvy up $61 billion in assets.

If Greece Acts Quickly, Crisis Could Be Averted (CNBC)
”The longer Greece waits before, the more the plan will cost…and the greater the odds of a haircut for bondholders,” Carl Weinberg explained.

Madoff Said Picower May Have Suspected Fraud, Henriques Writes (Bloomberg)
Madoff, serving a 150-year term for the largest Ponzi scheme in history, said in a prison interview that Picower could have figured out the fraud at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, according to the book. Picower invested $620 million and withdrew $7.8 billion before Madoff confessed to his brother and two sons in December 2008. Henriques asked Madoff who knew of the fraud. “Picower was the only one that might have,” Madoff said. “I mean how could he not?”

Human Cannonball Dies After Safety Net Fails (Sky News)
The accident happened during a show put on by Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show at the Kent County Showground in Detling at about 3.30pm on Monday.
The 23-year-old man was flown by air ambulance to Maidstone Hospital, but later died from his injuries.