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Opening Bell: 08.10.11

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France Seeks To Retain Top Rating (WSJ)
Sarkozy, who unexpectedly came back to Paris from his holiday retreat on the Côte d'Azur to call a meeting with key cabinet ministers and Bank of France governor Christian Noyer, said the deficit-reduction goals are "imperative," and tasked the finance and budget ministers to make proposals so that they can be safeguarded.

London Rioting Prompts Fears Over Soccer And Olympics (NYT)
Fearing for the safety of players and fans amid the rioting in London, soccer officials on Tuesday canceled two international matches and may postpone the opening weekend of the English Premier League, prompting questions about the city’s ability to secure high-profile events like soccer matches and next summer’s Olympics.

SEC Probes Goldman Over Libya Dealings (WSJ)
Tuesday's disclosure by Goldman of numerous investigations, regulatory reviews and legal action related to its sprawling businesses included a probe of the company's "compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," according to a securities filing...People familiar with the probe said the SEC is scrutinizing Goldman's dealings with Libya's sovereign-wealth fund, called the Libyan Investment Authority. In 2008, Goldman made options trades for the fund, controlled by Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but they suffered losses of more than $1 billion.

Reid Names First Debt Panel Picks (WSJ)
Reid named Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts. Ms. Murray will be co-chairman of the committee. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) will name the other co-chairman. Mr. Reid avoided choosing anyone in the so-called Gang of Six senators that recently came up with its own deficit-cutting plan. That group irked Mr. Reid by going its own way and trying to influence matters during the recent negotiations on the debt ceiling. In addition, those senators accepted cuts to Social Security at a time when Mr. Reid was strongly rejecting such cuts.

Commerzbank Profit Drops 93% on Greek Debt (Bloomberg)
“The earnings were very positive if you strip out the Greek writedown,” said Dirk Becker, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Kepler Capital Markets who recommends buying the shares.

US Mint Halts Sales Of Gold Collector Coins (Reuters)
A spike in gold prices prompted the U.S. Mint to suspend the online sale of gold collector coins Tuesday for the first time in recent memory, a mint spokesman said. The move affects only the gold numismatic products sold to collectors and not the gold bullion coins sold to investors, Mint spokesman Mike White said from Washington. Sales were suspended at midday for re-pricing, which was expected to be completed by late Wednesday, he said. Asked when that had last happened, White said, "not in recent history that I can remember.''

UK Businesses Tally Up Steep Costs Of Street Riots (CNBC)
The insured costs of the riots that have rocked the United Kingdom for four days look set to exceed 100 million pounds ($163 million), according to early estimates from the Association of British Insurers. However, with uninsured losses resulting from the closing of shops -- as well as a now deeper dent pounded into already fragile economic sentiment -- means that businesses now need strongly supportive governmental policy, businessmen and trade associations said.

Rental Options Sought On Foreclosed Homes (WSJ)
The Obama administration will announce plans Wednesday to seek investors' ideas for turning thousands of foreclosed properties owned by government-backed entities into rental homes, according to administration officials...One proposal would sell packages of hundreds or thousands of foreclosed properties in bulk to investors that agree to rent them out. That approach is preferred by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is taking back properties as defaults mount on loans backed by the FHA.

Cracks In China Housing Push (WSJ)
In recent weeks, several reports of shoddy workmanship on low-income housing have appeared in state media, raising concerns about safety and suggesting that the flagship project may have to proceed more slowly than expected. "If low-income housing construction is blindly devoted to speed, then like the frequent accidents we've seen recently, problems will keep occurring...and potentially even end in tragedy," said an article in the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, on July 27.

Fund Stars Find Fortunes Fading (WSJ)
Well-known mutual-fund investors Bruce Berkowitz and Bill Miller enjoyed winning streaks that lasted years. But they have been among those whacked in the current downturn. The $13.4 billion Fairholme Fund lost about 18% in August through Monday, including a nearly 9% drop on Monday. That compares with a 14% decline in that time for similar large-value funds, according to Morningstar Inc. data. The fund likely rebounded some Tuesday.

Dylan Ratigan: I'm Mad As Hell, How About You? (HP)
Yesterday, on TV, I exploded. I spent two minutes giving a primal yell at our political system, demanding the extraction of our money and dignity end. It was my most heartfelt and emotional moment on television, ever. And the emails poured in. I hit a chord, because it's something we all feel. Take a look.

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Opening Bell: 11.21.12

Germany Hints At More Financing (WSJ) Germany on Wednesday signaled its willingness to provide additional financing for the euro zone's bailout fund and accept lower interest on loans to Athens, in order to get the Greek rescue back on track and free the next tranche of about €44 billion ($56.40 billion) in loans for the euro zone's weakest member. Merkel Sees Chance For Greek Deal Monday (Reuters) "I believe there are chances, one doesn't know for sure, but there are chances to get a solution on Monday," Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament in a debate on the German budget. But the longing for one act, one miracle solution, one truth that means all our problems are gone tomorrow...this will not be fulfilled. What was neglected over years, over decades, cannot be taken care of overnight and therefore we will need to continue to move step by step." H-P Says It Was Duped (WSJ) The technology giant said that an internal investigation had revealed "serious accounting improprieties" and "outright misrepresentations" in connection with U.K. software maker Autonomy, which H-P acquired for $11.1 billion in October 2011. "There appears to have been a willful sustained effort" to inflate Autonomy's revenue and profitability, said Chief Executive Meg Whitman. "This was designed to be hidden." Michael Lynch, Autonomy's founder and former CEO, fired back hours later, denying improper accounting and accusing H-P of trying to hide its mismanagement. "We completely reject the allegations," said Mr. Lynch, who left H-P earlier this year. "As soon as there is some flesh put on the bones we will show they are not true." Analysts Had Questioned Autonomy’s Accounting Years Ago (CNBC) Paul Morland, technology research analyst at broking and advisory house Peel Hunt, told CNBC that he had noticed three red flags in Autonomy’s accounts in the years leading up to the HP acquisition: poor cash conversion, an inflated organic growth rate, and the categorizing of hardware sales as software. London Bankers Become Landlords as Rents Hit Record (Bloomberg) Vivek Jeswani became a landlord by accident when Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) transferred him to New York two weeks after he moved into a new home in central London. Now back in the U.K., Jeswani views the apartment in Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes, as one of his best assets and is about to buy another home to expand his rental business. “There are no other investments as attractive and you’ve got some security if you’ve got an asset you can use yourself,” the 36-year-old risk officer at China Construction Bank Corp.’s U.K. unit said. “There’s a good yield over 5 percent and being in central London, you’ve got demand domestically and internationally.” Trading Charges Reach SAC (WSJ) The hedge funds reaped $276 million in profits and losses avoided based on that information, criminal and civil authorities said—far dwarfing that of any previous insider-trading case. The bulk of the trading profits generated by Mr. Martoma was paid to Mr. Cohen, a person close to the hedge fund said. Fed Still Trying To Push Down Rates (WSJ) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank will keep trying to push down long-term interest rates in 2013, as federal tax and spending policies become a more substantial headwind to the U.S. economy. "We will continue to do our best to add monetary-policy support to the recovery," Mr. Bernanke said at the New York Economic Club, answering a question about how the Federal Reserve would respond to impending spending cuts or tax increases that might restrain economic growth. 'Stiletto Surgery' alters pinky toe for better fit (Fox) These days, some women will do just about anything to fit into their favorite pair of high heels – including surgery. A growing number of women are paying thousands of dollars to surgically alter their feet just to make wearing heels a more comfortable experience. Surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes are on the rise. “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” said Susan Deming, a patient who recently underwent a toe-shortening procedure. Adoboli’s Fate Decided at Wine Bar as UBS Market Bets Unraveled (Bloomberg) On a cool late summer evening last year in London’s financial district, with the euro-zone crisis worsening and Greece tottering on the edge of default, Kweku Adoboli says he asked the three traders who worked with him at UBS AG’s exchange-traded funds desk to join him for a drink. Adoboli said in a post on his Facebook page that he needed “a miracle” as his bets on the market imploded. That night at a wine bar across the street from their office, Adoboli asked John Hughes, the senior trader on the ETF desk, and two junior traders, what to do. The others decided he should take the blame for billions of dollars in losses and an elaborate web of secret trades in what he called an umbrella account that once held $40 million in hidden profits. “I knew I was going to lose my job anyway, I had already resigned myself to that, so fair enough,” the 32-year-old Adoboli testified last month about the meeting, which the other traders deny took place. Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease (Bloomberg) Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as damage to the labor market caused by superstorm Sandy began to subside. Jobless claims decreased by 41,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Nov. 17, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The number of applications matched the median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Soros Buying Gold as Record Prices Seen on Stimulus (Bloomberg) The metal will rise every quarter next year and average $1,925 an ounce in the final three months, or 11 percent more than now, according to the median of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Paulson & Co. has a $3.66 billion bet through the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed exchange- traded product, and Soros Fund Management LLC increased its holdings by 49 percent in the third quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. 'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle planned to to cook up 'some girl meat' on Thanksgiving (NYDN) The "Cannibal Cop" had his own twist for a Thanksgiving dinner this year — cooking up “some girl meat,” prosecutors revealed Tuesday. Gilberto Valle, 28 — who allegedly kept a database of at least 100 women he plotted to rape, cook and eat — planned the freakish feast with one of his online conspirators earlier this year, prosecutors said. “I’m planning on getting me some girl meat,” he wrote to his pal on Feb. 9. “Really tell me more,” responded the friend. “It’s this November, for Thanksgiving. It’s a long way off but I’m getting the plan in motion now,” Valle wrote.