Opening Bell: 05.18.11

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For States, a Glimmer of Hope on Deficits (NYT)
From stronger-than-expected tax collections in deficit-ridden California to projected surpluses in struggling states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, a growing number of recession-weary states are finally announcing a bit of good budget news for the first time since the downturn began. But it would probably be premature to pop the Champagne, or even the prosecco — or to otherwise declare the fiscal crisis that has hammered states to be over.

Howard Marks' Oaktree Capital sows seeds for listing on NYSE (FT)
Oaktree Capital Management is planning to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a deal that would value the asset manager at between $8bn and $9bn, people familiar with the matter said. Oaktree, which manages $85bn, mostly in debt investments, listed shares four years ago on a quasi-public exchange set up by Goldman Sachs.

DSK Accuser Is 'Afraid,' 'Overwhelmed' (WSJ)
Investigators swabbed a sink and removed a section of carpet from the hotel suite where International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted a hotel housekeeper, a New York law-enforcement official said Tuesday, as a clearer profile began to emerge of the alleged victim. Her attorney [Jeffrey Shapiro] characterized her as a "simple woman, with little education" who is a single mother from Guinea. Mr. Shapiro said his client, a 32-year-old widowed mother of a 15-year-old girl, was granted asylum in the United States seven years ago from her native country of Guinea.

Fed seeks annual US bank stress tests (FT)
The Federal Reserve wants to subject US banks to annual capital tests, reserving the right to veto dividend pay-outs if they do not pass.

‘Gang of Six’ on verge of collapse as Republican Sen. Coburn withdraws (WaPo)
Since January, six senators have engaged in difficult negotiations and made painful concessions in a politically dangerous quest for something that has long eluded Washington: a bipartisan compromise to control the nation’s mounting debt. By Tuesday evening, however, the “Gang of Six” was on the verge of collapse. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) withdrew from the bipartisan working group, saying the senators simply could not overcome the polarizing political pressure that each faces.

Senate rejects measure to end subsidies for big oil companies (WaPo)
A Democratic measure that would have repealed tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies failed to clear the Senate on Tuesday, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to advance in a near-party-line vote.

Geithner Warns On Debt Ceiling, Talks IMF Crisis (DJ via WSJ)
In his first public comments since International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was jailed on sexual-assault charges, [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner added that the institution should establish a plan to fill its leadership vacuum on an interim basis, given that the IMF chief was "not in the position" to make decisions during a critical time. In remarks to the Harvard Club here, Geithner cautioned the GOP leadership against tying their budget blueprint to the contentious talks to lift the U.S.'s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Citigroup’s Gain on Mortgage Hedge Fund Jumps as Volcker Trading Ban Looms (Bloomberg)
Citigroup’s Mortgage/Credit Opportunity Fund climbed 16 percent in the first four months of 2011, almost doubling its pace last year, according to internal reports obtained by Bloomberg News. About 90 percent of the $395 million invested in the fund is the bank’s own capital, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Dan Zwirn Seeks Comeback With Alda Three Years After Shutting Hedge Fund (Bloomberg)
Daniel Zwirn, the New York investor forced to shut a $4 billion hedge fund because of client withdrawals, is starting over with a new publicly traded fund that will be safe from redemptions. Zwirn will help manage a closed-end fund for Alda Capital Corp. that will lend to small and medium-sized companies, the Chicago-based firm disclosed in a regulatory filing this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Alda plans to raise about $50 million for the fund, according to the filing.

Morgan Stanley Sets Up Yuan Fund (WSJ)
Morgan Stanley said Wednesday it has set up a private-equity joint venture in the affluent eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, launching its first yuan-denominated fund that aims to raise 1.5 billion yuan ($231 million).

Oyster Herpes in France Ravages Harvest (Bloomberg)
A deadly virus is stalking France’s coastline, killing at least 60 percent of the young oysters there since 2008…The virus is not just a blow to France, Europe’s biggest producer. The global industry, worth at least $3.3 billion in 2009, has been plagued by OsHV-1 in Ireland, England and Australia.

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