Opening Bell: 05.04.11

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U.S. May Pursue More Lenders After Suing Deutsche Bank on Loans (Bloomberg)
“We go where the evidence takes us, and if it takes us to the larger players on Wall Street, so be it,” Kanovsky said. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said it wouldn’t be a “fantastical stretch” for prosecutors to scrutinize other lenders.

Steep Drop Tarnishes Big Bets On Silver (WSJ)
George Soros's big hedge fund, a firm operated by high-profile investor John Burbank and some other leading firms have been selling gold and silver, according to people close to the matter, after furiously accumulating precious metals for much of the past two years…Some others with stellar records—including Mr. Burbank, of Passport Capital, and Alan Fournier, of Pennant Capital—also have been passionate about precious metals, giving encouragement to individual investors to follow. Now they are selling, in each case for distinct reasons…[John] Paulson told investors Tuesday morning that gold prices could go as high as $4,000 an ounce over the next three to five years, as the U.S. and U.K. flood the money supply…Andrew Hall, a former star trader at Citigroup who runs hedge fund Astenbeck Capital Management LLC and trades for Phibro, a unit of Occidental Petroleum Corp., told his clients last month that gold and silver will continue to "march higher" unless evidence emerges of "an imminent rise" in interest rates.

Official: Portugal bailout to be $115 billion‎ (BusinessWeek)
"The government got a good deal, one that safeguards Portugal," Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in a televised address to the nation. He did not take questions.

Portugal aid terms likely to spark 2-year recession (Reuters)
An official source told Reuters the austerity measures to be included in the deal, such as higher taxes, point to a "contraction of 2 percent in gross domestic product in 2011 and in 2012". That will make it yet more challenging for the heavily indebted country, which has had some of the lowest growth rates in Europe for a decade, to ride out its crisis and return to financial health. The source told Reuters taxes will rise on cars and property and there will be cuts in deductions on health, education and housing.

US Becomes Net Exporter of Fuel (FT)
The US has become a net exporter of fuel for the first time for nearly 20 years as drivers struggle with high petrol prices.

4 Billionaires at Glencore (BBC)
When Glencore publishes its full flotation prospectus later this morning, it will show that there are four billionaires working for the world's leading commodities, minerals and energy trader. These are led by the chief executive Ivan Glasenberg, who will be shown to be worth around $10bn. But it is the quartet of billionaires, plus many others worth more than $100m each, and hundreds who are millionaires, that makes Glencore quite extraordinary.

U.S. Regulators Face Budget Pinch as Mandates Widen (NYT)
On a recent trip to New York to tour a trading floor, a group of employees from the commodities watchdog rode Mega Bus both ways, arriving late to their meeting despite a 5:30 a.m. departure. The bus, which cost $30 a person round trip, saved the agency roughly $1,000 over Amtrak…The money squeeze comes as Wall Street regulators take on added responsibilities in the wake of the financial crisis, including monitoring hedge funds, overseeing the $600 trillion derivatives market and other tasks mandated by the Dodd-Frank law.

Euro Approaches 18-Month High Versus Dollar Before ECB Decision (Bloomberg)
The 17-member common currency strengthened against all but one of its most actively traded peers as a report showed European services and manufacturing growth accelerated in April. The Dollar Index declined toward the lowest level since July 2008. New Zealand’s dollar dropped to a two-week low after a government report showed the nation had the biggest net outflow of residents in more than 10 years. The pound slumped to the weakest in more than a year against the euro.

Foreign Banks Get Scrutiny in Britain (WSJ)
The Financial Services Authority's goal is to prevent certain companies from exploiting European rules to set up banking and brokerage operations that the agency views as potentially risky because they use a structure that doesn't face tough local supervision. But the move by the FSA is controversial. Some observers said the pressure conflicts with Europe's "passporting" rules, under which financial institutions from anywhere in the 30-country European Economic Area are allowed to open outposts in other member countries. Those "branches," which can house a range of business activities, face limited oversight by local regulators. Instead, they primarily are the responsibility of regulators in their home countries.

KKR and TPG look to move into Brazil (FT)
KKR and TPG are hunting for a senior figure to lead their offices in Brazil, who will then recruit start- up teams, people in the industry said.

At Nasdaq, a Pitch and Woo (WSJ)
Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. has rolled out the red carpet to hedge funds, racing to persuade them to buy up shares of NYSE Euronext to derail the Big Board's planned tie-up with Deutsche Börse AG…Some merger arbitragers and hedge-fund investors have met with Nasdaq Chief Executive Robert Greifeld three times in the last few weeks, people familiar with the matter said. They also are being offered private meetings with Mr. Greifeld and special tours of Nasdaq headquarters, these people said.

Southampton's Former Goldman Sachs Party Pad Sells for $4.1M (Curbed)
In 2009, the New York Post caught wind that Goldman Sachs exec Richard Kimball Jr. was in hot water with the Southampton Police. Turns out Kimball, the ex-husband of Holly Peterson, was throwing pretty rowdy pool parties at his Southampton rental. But while Kimball was partying, the rental was trying to find itself a more permanent buyer.

Wall Street's Cult Calculator Turns 30 (WSJ)
Thirty years after the launch of the 12c, it's still commonplace for financial analysts filing into a conference room to set down their calculators next to their papers and cellphones. Indeed, the 12c, which costs $70 on H-P's website, is H-P's best-selling calculator of all time, though the company won't reveal how many units it has sold over the years. (A standard calculator costs about $10.) Its chief competitor is Texas Instruments' $28 BA II Plus, which is the only other calculator test-takers are permitted to use on the official CFA exam.

Florida woman, Gloria Esther Perez, busted for hiding knife in her 'private area' (NYDN via Daily Intel)
Perez was searched and found to be hiding dozens of prescription pills, police said. Perez then "became ill," the police report states, and was taken to a hospital. Once there, it was discovered she was concealing two knives. One was tucked within the folds of her fat while the other was "hidden in her vagina."

Related

Opening Bell: 04.03.12

CFTC Deals Out Royal Pain (WSJ) In a federal-court lawsuit filed Monday in New York, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleged a "wash trading scheme of massive proportion" by RBC, Canada's largest bank. From 2007 to 2010, officials at RBC coordinated with two subsidiaries on the purchase and sale of futures contracts that gave the right to sell stock later at certain prices, the CFTC alleged. The alleged scheme eliminated the possibility that RBC would suffer any losses on the investments, while locking in "lucrative" Canadian tax breaks on dividend payments, according to the lawsuit. U.S. Economy Enters Sweet Spot as China Slows (Bloomberg) An improving job market, rising stock prices and easier credit are combining to lift U.S. consumer confidence and spending, with optimism measured by the Bloomberg Comfort Index near a four-year high. Personal-consumption expenditures increased by the most in seven months in February, rising 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said last week. “We’re entering a sweet spot for the economy,” said Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics Inc. in New York. “We’re in a self-reinforcing cycle,” where faster employment growth leads to higher household income and increased consumer spending. China's Central Banker Sees Risk of Global Recession (WSJ) China's central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan warned that the global economy hasn't yet escaped the financial crisis, while cautioning the U.S. to take "more responsibility" for its monetary easing. There are "new elements that could bring the global economy back into recession," the central bank chief said in a panel discussion Tuesday at the Boao Forum in the southern island province of Hainan, without elaborating on what the elements are. ‘Apple Fever’ to Push Stock to $1,001, Topeka Capital Says (Bloomberg) Apple, already the world’s most valuable company, will see its stock price reach $1,001 within 12 months, lifted by growth in China and the debut of a new television product, according to Topeka Capital Markets. The new target, issued yesterday by Topeka’s Brian White, is the highest among the 45 analysts tracked by Bloomberg and represents a 62 percent increase over the current price. The gains will be fueled by demand for the next iPhone, in addition to the expansion into China and the TV market, he said. SEC Probes Groupon (WSJ) The regulator's probe into the popular online-coupon company is at a preliminary stage and the SEC hasn't yet decided whether to launch a formal investigation into the matter, the person said. The SEC decision to examine the circumstances surrounding Groupon's surprise revision is the start-up's latest run-in with the regulator. Groupon twice revised its finances before its November IPO. An SEC spokesperson declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Groupon. JOBS Act Jeopardizes Safety Net for Investors (Dealbook) Andrew Ross Sorkin: "Maybe President Obama should have bought shares in Groupon’s I.P.O. If he had, he would understand what some Groupon investors may be feeling as he prepares this week to sign a new piece of legislation to help start-ups get financing. Had he purchased $10,000 worth of shares on the open market on the first day of public trading for Groupon, the online coupon company based in his hometown Chicago, he would have lost a good chunk of his investment, putting him in the red by almost $4,100 today. That means he would have lost about 41 percent of his investment in Groupon in just five months, while the Nasdaq rose some 16 percent." James Cameron Changes Stars In Titanic (CM) The director unveiled a 3D version of his multi-Oscar winning classic last month (Mar12) and he resisted the temptation to use its reworking as an excuse to cut scenes he's no longer happy with. But there was one shot Cameron felt obliged to alter, because a top stargazer informed him the astral pattern onscreen was incorrect for the night the liner sank in 1912. The scene involves Kate Winslet's character, Rose DeWitt Bukater, drifting on a piece of wood and gazing at the night sky as the disaster unfolds. Cameron tells British magazine Culture, "Oh, there is one shot that I fixed. It's because Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is one of the U.S.' leading astronomers, sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year, in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen, and with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in. "So I said, 'All right, you son of a bitch, send me the right stars for the exact time, 4.20am on April 15, 1912, and I'll put it in the movie.' So that's the one shot that has been changed." JPMorgan’s Hannam Resigns After Market Abuse Fine (Reuters) JPMorgan Chase’s Ian Hannam, one of its most senior London-based bankers, has decided to resign after being fined by Britain's financial watchdog for market abuse, according to an internal memo the bank sent to staff. In a separate statement, Hannam said he would appeal the 450,000 pounds ($720,700) fine by the FSA. Judge OKs MF sale (Dow Jones) A judge approved a Jefferies Group affiliate’s purchase of MF Global Holdings Ltd.’s liquidating brokerage’s remaining gold, silver and other precious-metal assets. Judge Martin Glenn of the US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan approved the sale, but much of yesterday’s time was taken up by issues regarding insurance meant to pay for former MF Global executives’ legal defenses. Jefferies is buying the remaining 106 warehouse certificates — not the actual gold and silver bars — of MF Global’s former commodities customers. Ann Romney Says Campaign Will ‘Unzip’ the Real Mitt (The Note) Ann Romney defended her husband’s sense of humor today during a radio interview, explaining that if people think the candidate seems too stiff at times as the host suggested, she thinks “we better unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out.”