Opening Bell: 06.16.11

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

Uncertainty Over Greece Weighs on Financial Markets (NYT)
Financial markets remained jittery Thursday amid concerns about the stability of the government in Athens, uncertainty over the fate of a second Greek bailout and suggestions by Ireland that it would require investors to pay for part of the bailout of its indebted financial institutions.

Paulson Funds Struggle as Big Bets Backfire; Gold Works (WSJ)
Mr. Paulson's $9 billion Advantage Plus fund lost more than 13% in the early part of this month, through June 10, leaving it down 19.65% for the year, according to two investors briefed on the performance. The Enhanced Partners fund, which had been a big winner this year, lost nearly 7% in the first 10 days of June, and now is up less than 4% in 2011, according to the investors.

Referrals on SAC Disclosed (WSJ)
The SEC has received 65 referrals of suspicious trading at hedge-fund firm SAC Capital Advisors LP over the last decade, or 46 more than previously disclosed, according to Sen. Charles Grassley...Sen. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said "many" of the referrals involved trades older than the five-year legal time limit on bringing civil actions for insider trading. The older trades "would not appear to trigger any concerns regarding ongoing investigations," he said in a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro on Wednesday. SAC said it was "not surprised" that it has been the subject of 65 referrals since 2000. "Referrals by Finra are the result of surveillance of market-wide trading activity and they are neither findings nor allegations of insider trading," a spokesman for SAC said in a statement. "Given the size of our firm, our active investment style, and the period covered, we are not surprised by the number of referrals. SAC has always cooperated fully with regulators and will continue to do so," the spokesman said.

Falcone's Venture Runs Into Static (WSJ)
The most recent evidence of complications surfaced this week in disclosures tied to a report expected to detail potential interference problems with the network…The report is expected to warn federal regulators that recent tests showed LightSquared's network can knock out global positioning system, or GPS, receivers, according to people familiar with the report.

Och-Ziff May Profit From Market Turbulence (Bloomberg)
Daniel Och’s hedge-fund group bought options on almost $12 billion of U.S. stocks during the first quarter, a move that may generate profits if markets turn more volatile this year.

Wall Street Mind Meld: Obama Struggles? (Morning Money)
M.M. spoke with several senior Wall Street executives about recent efforts by the Obama campaign to reignite the financial industry support that generated a huge money edge over John McCain in 2008…One executive said he did not believe next week’s $38K per head event at Daniel had sold out, though another said that may have changed in the last few days.

Europe Faces 'Lehman Moment' As Greece Unravels (Bloomberg)
“The probability of a eurozone Lehman moment is increasing,” said Neil Mackinnon, an economist at VTB Capital in London and a former U.K. Treasury official. “The markets have moved from simply pricing in a high probability of a Greek debt default to looking at a scenario of it becoming disorderly and of contagion spreading to other economies like Portugal, like Ireland, and maybe Spain, Italy and Belgium.”
Overlooked Treasure for BofA in Chinese Bank (WSJ)
Amid this gloom, there is an overlooked bright spot for BofA: A lockup on most of its $22.2 billion holding in China Construction Bank expires in August. This means the bank, if it chooses, would be able to start selling down this holding. In one sense, this won't be that big a deal because gains on the stake, which had an initial value of about $8.5 billion, are mostly reflected in BofA's equity, or book value. But bank investors should remember there is a difference between equity and capital, which is a regulatory measure.

UK retail sales fall 1.4% in May (BBC)
UK retail sales fell 1.4% in May, official figures have shown, reversing the rise seen in April when sales were boosted by the royal wedding. In April, sales had risen 1.1% on the previous month, reflecting a "spike" due to one-off factors, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The ONS said May's sales figures were worse than analysts had expected.

China Development Bank Scraps 1-Year Bill Sale Due To 'Market Conditions' (DJ Newswires)
China Development Bank Corp. said Thursday it will scrap its planned CNY20 billion ($3.09 billion) one-year bill auction due to "market conditions." The lender had planned to sell the bills Thursday morning as part of its routine financing. It didn't elaborate on why it cancelled. The bill sale cancellation comes after central bank action tightened liquidity in the domestic money market.

Citi Says Many More Customers Had Data Stolen by Hackers (NYT)
The Citigroup credit card data breach exposed the private financial data of more than 360,000 customers, about 80 percent more than it reported last week, according to a statement the bank released late Wednesday night. Previously, Citigroup said that more than 200,000 cardholders, or about 1 percent of its 21 million North American cardholders, were affected.

Central banks buy up US debt (FT)
Central banks were big buyers of Treasury debt in April while private investors sold out for the first time in nearly two years, according to official data released on Wednesday. The US Treasury reported that net foreign purchases of long-term securities, including stocks and bonds, rose $30.6bn in April, up from $24bn the previous month.

Swiss Banks Urged to Bolster Capital (WSJ)
The Swiss National Bank Thursday renewed calls for Swiss banking giants UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group to bolster their capital as quickly as possible, saying cushions are too thin when capital that won't absorb losses is stripped out under new bank rules soon to come into force.

Surge in junk derivatives trading (FT)
The volume of an index of derivatives contracts linked to corporate junk bonds – called the “high-yield CDX” – last week jumped to $28bn, nearly double the weekly average over the past few months, according to Markit, a data provider that owns the index.

JPMorgan problem fixer takes on mortgages (FT)
Mr Bisignano, 51, has built a reputation as a fixer of some of Wall Street’s toughest problems. At Citigroup, he turned the money-losing global transaction services business into one that earned a $1.6bn profit by the time he left in 2005. When Citi’s offices in lower Manhattan were decimated after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, Mr Bisignano was charged with relocating employees and ensuring that the bank’s systems continued to operate. Now Mr Bisignano is turning his attention to JPMorgan’s mortgage business, which like the home lending units of other banks, has suffered from myriad problems as a result of the housing meltdown.

I.E.A. Says World Will Increasingly Turn to Americas for Oil (NYT)
Over the next few years, world consumers are going to become more dependent on North and South America to satisfy their growing thirst for crude oil, according to a forecast to be released Thursday by the International Energy Agency.

Swiss Commodities Trader Expands Into Ethanol in Africa (NYT)
Jean Claude Gandur, a Swiss commodities trader, made a fortune during the 1990s buying oil concessions in Africa that others did not want or could not hold. Now a billionaire, he is poised to swim against the tide again with a major expansion into ethanol in Sierra Leone, the West African country still recovering from a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002.

Rioting overshadows hockey as Vancouver reels after Game 7 loss (Globe and Mail)
There were stabbings, numerous cars set on fire, and marquee stores looted throughout the downtown area, as police used tear gas and pepper spray to try – mostly unsuccessfully – to quell the ugly outbreak of violence.

Related

Opening Bell: 11.26.12

UBS Stung By Adoboli Case (WSJ) Swiss financial market regulator Finma said it will keep a close eye on UBS's investment bank for the foreseeable future and may ask it to raise fresh capital, following an investigation into failures that allowed London-based trader Kweku Adoboli to make unauthorized trades. At the same time, the U.K. Financial Services Authority fined UBS £29.7 million ($47.6 million). Mr. Adoboli was convicted of fraud last week and sentenced to a seven-year prison term. "The measures ordered by Finma include capital restrictions and an acquisition ban on the investment bank, and any new business initiative it plans must be approved by Finma," the regulator said. Finma will also consider "whether UBS must increase capital backing for its operational risks," will appoint a third party to ensure corrective measures are introduced, and will organize an audit to review the steps taken by UBS. Finma declined to say when the auditing review would be completed or when a decision on a capital increase would be made, though a spokesman said this is likely to be within months rather than years. SAC Fund Manager Faces Choice of Trial or Deal (Bloomberg) Martoma, 38, used illegal tips to help SAC make $276 million on shares of pharmaceutical companies Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC, according to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Arrested last week, he is to appear today in Manhattan federal court for masterminding what the U.S. calls the most lucrative insider-trading case ever. Flowers Foods Sizes Up Hostess (WSJ) The Thomasville, Ga., company is considered a likely bidder for some of the assets owned by Hostess, which last week was granted permission by a federal bankruptcy-court judge to begin liquidating. The end came after a contentious bankruptcy that began in January and culminated this month in a strike. Goldman Turns Down Southern Europe Banks as Crisis Lingers (Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs, the No. 1 stock underwriter in Europe, turned down roles in offerings by banks in Spain and Italy this year, the only top U.S. securities firm not to take part in the fundraisings by southern European lenders as the region’s debt crisis stretches to a fourth year. The firm declined a role in Banco Popular Espanol SA’s 2.5 billion-euro ($3.2 billion) rights offering this month because it wanted greater protection to avoid potential losses on the sale, two people familiar with the talks said. JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are helping to guarantee the deal. Goldman also didn’t underwrite this year’s share sales by Italy’s UniCredit SpA and Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo SA, which drew Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup. Knight Seen Getting Acquisition Bids This Week (Bloomberg) The company with a market value of about $430 million was bailed out by six financial firms in August after losing $457 million in a trading error. Chicago-based Getco LLC, one of the rescuers, and Virtu Financial LLC in New York are among the likely bidders, said the person, who requested anonymity because the negotiations are private. The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 23 that Knight expected offers for its market-making unit. Woman who rode manatee charged with violating protection act (Sentinel) A 53-year-old Pinellas County woman was arrested Saturday for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act by riding a sea cow in the waters near St. Petersburg in September. Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez of St. Petersburg was arrested at her place of employment — Sears at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg — on a warrant issued by the State Attorney's Office. The charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. The punishment could be a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail, the Tampa Bay Times said. Gutierrez stepped forward after the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office released photos of a then-unknown woman riding a manatee near Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County on Sept. 30. "Gutierrez admitted to the offense claiming she is new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees,'' the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Escrowyou too, judge! (NYP) Argentina, bruised and battered after a 10-year battle to sidestep billions of dollars in bond payments, is lashing out at US courts and a Manhattan federal court judge. A high-ranking member of Argentina President Cristina Kirchner’s administration terms “judicial imperialism” the Thanksgiving eve ruling by Judge Thomas Griesa that ordered the South American country to place a $1.3 billion bond payment in escrow pending the end of the legal tussle. Kirchner has repeatedly said she would not pay up. Griesa, frustrated with Argentina’s repeated attempts to stall the legal proceedings, sided with New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, whose Elliott Management owns Argentine bonds that were defaulted on back in 2002. 'Cliff' Threatens Holiday Spending (WSJ) The White House warned in a new report that going off the so-called "fiscal cliff" could slow the growth of real gross domestic product by 1.4% and limit consumer spending during the holiday season. The report comes as lawmakers are returning to Washington with just weeks left to find an agreement to prevent taxes from going up on millions and spending cuts from kicking in. It will likely provide fodder for both political parties as they seek to find a compromise. At Some Firms, Cutting Corporate Rates May Cost Billions (WSJ) President Barack Obama has said, most recently during last month's presidential debates, that the 35% U.S. corporate tax rate should be cut. That would mean lower tax bills for many companies. But it also could prompt large write-downs by Citigroup, AIG, Ford and other companies that hold piles of "deferred tax assets," or DTAs...Citigroup, for instance, acknowledged during its recent third-quarter earnings conference call that a cut in the tax rate could lead to a DTA-related charge of $4 billion to $5 billion against earnings. Cohen's General Counsel Gives SAC Boss Cover (NYP) The sharks of the US Attorney’s office have SAC Capital Advisors surrounded — and owner Steven Cohen is looking a lot like chum. Good thing the billionaire hedgie has a large supply of shark repellent. That would be Peter Nussbaum, SAC’s longtime general counsel who, over his 12 years at the Stamford, Conn., firm, has built up an impressive 30-person compliance department — not including an additional tech compliance team. “Nussbaum is the most respected person at SAC,” said a hedge fund executive not at SAC. “He is going to do what he thinks is best for the firm and not be cowed by anyone.” Nussbaum’s huge compliance department, observers said, was built, in large part, because of the perception that the government was determined to bust Cohen. Confidential Police Docs Found in Macy's Parade Confetti (WPIX) Confidential personal information is what some paradegoers found among confetti tossed during the world's most famous parade. That information included social security numbers and banking information for police employees, some of whom are undercover officers. Ethan Finkelstein, who was home from college on Thanksgiving break, was watching the parade at 65th Street and Central Park West, when he and a friend noticed a strip of confetti stuck onto her coat. "It landed on her shoulder," Finkelstein told PIX11 News, "and it says 'SSN' and it's written like a social security number, and we're like, 'That's really bizarre.' It made the Tufts University freshman concerned, so he and his friends picked up more of the confetti that had fallen around them. "There are phone numbers, addresses, more social security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police." One confetti strip indicates that it's from an arrest record, and other strips offer more detail. "This is really shocking," Finkelstein said. "It says, 'At 4:30 A.M. a pipe bomb was thrown at a house in the Kings Grant' area." A closer look shows that the documents are from the Nassau County Police Department. The papers were shredded, but clearly not well enough.

Opening Bell: 11.9.15

Wall Street braces for bonus cuts; Central banker says fed hike makes sense; "Rumblr, the 'Tinder for Fighting' app, to launch its beta trial on Nov. 9"; and more.

Opening Bell: 11.28.12

Gorman Enlists Morgan Stanley Workforce in Fiscal Cliff Campaign (Bloomberg) Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman called on the investment bank’s employees to pressure U.S. lawmakers into reaching an agreement that averts the so-called fiscal cliff. “No issue is more critical right now for the U.S. economy, the global financial markets and the financial well-being of our clients, which is why I am asking you to participate in the democratic process and make your voice heard,” Gorman wrote in a memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. The message went to about 30,000 U.S. workers including 16,000 financial advisers, said James Wiggins, a company spokesman. Buffett Expects 'Fiscal Cliff' Fix, But Not By December 31 (CNBC) Buffett didn't outline a specific solution that he prefers, saying he could "go with any number of plans." But he thinks the end result should have U.S. revenues at 18.5 percent of GDP and expenditures at 21 percent. Those levels would be "sustainable" because the ratio of the nation's national debt to GDP wouldn't increase, and might even fall over time. SAC Capital Received a Wells Notice From SEC Last Week, May Be Subject to Civil Charges (CNBC) Story developing. EU Approves Spanish Banks' Restructuring Plans (WSJ) European Union regulators Wednesday gave the green light to nearly €40 billion ($51.78 billion) in euro-zone funding for Spain's stricken bank sector, as it approved the restructuring plans for four lenders. BFA/Bankia, NCG Banco, Catalunya Banc and Banco de Valencia SA BVA.MC will require a total of €37 billion for their recapitalization plans, the regulators said. The European Union's Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said bondholders would face losses. Will Italy Need A Bailout In 2013? (CNBC) “We still see as our baseline scenario that Italy will likely be forced to ask for an international bailout at some point in 2013,” said Citi Analyst Giada Giani in a report on the country. “Italian economic fundamentals have not really improved, despite some improvement in market conditions. The negative feedbacks from fiscal austerity on growth have been severe, as the ability of the private sector to absorb fiscal tightening by lowering its saving rate is limited.” EU Agrees New Controls for Credit Rating Agencies (Reuters) European Union countries and the bloc's parliament agreed on Tuesday to introduce limited controls on credit ratings agencies after their judgment was called into question in the debt crisis. Michel Barnier, the European commissioner in charge of regulation who helped broker a deal on the new law, said it aimed to reduce the over-reliance on ratings and establish a civil liability regime. The new rules should make it easier to sue the agencies if they are judged to have made errors when, for example, ranking the creditworthiness of debt. Deutsche Bank Sued Over Home Mortgage-Backed Securities (Bloomberg) Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, was sued by a trustee over claims that some securities sold by a unit of the bank were backed by home-mortgage loans taken out by fraudulent borrowers. DB Structured Products Inc.’s pool of more than 1,500 mortgages included more than 320 that were defective, HSBC Bank USA (HSBA), acting as trustee, said in a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. “Borrowers lied, with or without the knowledge of the loan originators themselves, concerning how much money they owed, how much money they made, whether and where they worked, and where they lived,” HSBC claimed. “A handful of instances of such inaccuracies is perhaps to be expected. Hundreds of instances of borrower dishonesty is not.” HSBC seeks unspecified damages and said Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank must buy back the breaching loans under its agreements with the trustee. Woman Jailed For Attacking Beau Over Bad Sex (TSG) A Florida woman was jailed last night for a post-coital assault on her boyfriend, an attack the victim says was prompted when only he climaxed during a sexual encounter in the couple’s residence. Raquel Gonzalez, 24, was arrested Monday afternoon for felony domestic battery and booked into the Manatee County lockup, where bond has been set at $750. According to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report, Gonzalez and Esric Davis, 30, are “boyfriend and girlfriend who live in the same home and are involved in a sexual relationship.” Deputies noted that Davis and Gonzalez were “involved in sexual intercourse” when “Esric then climaxed and Raquel did not.” Which reportedly angered Gonzalez, who allegedly “began hitting and scratching [Davis], causing scratches near his eye and nose.” Davis told investigators that Gonzalez “goes off” frequently and that she had previously been physical with him. Be right back, hon ... with a $53M tip (NYP) Anthony Chiasson, the founder of hedge fund Level Global, started getting illegal insider tips in 2008 when the $4 billion firm was going through a rough patch, a key government witness told a jury yesterday. The witness, Sam Adondakis, a former analyst who worked for Chiasson, said he told his boss tips on Dell came straight from the tech giant...The Dell tip that netted the firm millions wasn’t without its drama. On Aug. 27, the day before Dell announced its results, Chiasson, Level Global co-founder David Ganek, and Greg Brenner, fund executive, held a conference call about their Dell position. At the time, Adondakis, on vacation in the Hamptons, was sitting down to breakfast with his girlfriend, he said yesterday. Adondakis said he remembers the conference call well because his girlfriend “was annoyed” by the conversation, which took him away from their meal for a good 40 minutes. Banks Feel Currency Pinch (WSJ) Banks reported sharp drops in currency-trading revenue last quarter, in many cases deepening a slump that began early this year. Even Deutsche Bank AG, the world's biggest foreign-exchange bank, reported revenue "significantly lower than the prior year" even as the volume of transactions it handled hit a record high in the third quarter. Banks are struggling on two fronts. A calm in currency markets relative to the swings of the last few years has reduced overall trading activity. And the explosive growth of electronic trading has brought transparency to a roughly $4 trillion-a-day market, making buyers and sellers less reliant on big banks to pair them up. Executives' Good Luck in Trading Own Stock (WSJ) Among 20,237 executives who traded their own company's stock during the week before their companies made news, 1,418 executives recorded average stock gains of 10% (or avoided 10% losses) within a week after their trades. This was close to double the 786 who saw the stock they traded move against them that much. Most executives have a mix of trades, some that look good in retrospect and others that do not. 'Two and a Half Men' star apologizes for offending cast and crew (CNN) A day after a video posted online showed him describing "Two and a Half Men" as "filth" and advising viewers to stop watching the sitcom, actor Angus T. Jones apologized to the show's cast and crew Tuesday. "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed," Jones said in a statement released by his publicist. "I never intended that." The 19-year-old actor -- who plays Jake Harper, the CBS sitcom's "Half" man -- didn't detail what motivated him to make comments...In the video, the actor, who's been on the show since 2003, repeatedly asks viewers not to watch the sitcom. "I'm on 'Two and a Half Men,' and I don't want to be on it," Jones said. "You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't. I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show. You go all or nothing."