Opening Bell: 08.25.11

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Apple Management Faces Task Of Keeping Momentum (WSJ)
The executives who will now run Apple without Mr. Jobs will face big tests of whether they can still excel in highly competitive businesses that often have small profit margins. "Can they hit the next home run?" asks Charles O'Reilly, a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. "Because if they don't, they're in a bunch of bad businesses." Jobs'...successor, Tim Cook, 50 years old, is the chief operating officer to whom he handed the reins of the company three times—once in 2004 when Mr. Jobs was recuperating from pancreatic cancer surgery, once in early 2009 when he took a six-month medical leave of absence for a liver transplant and again in early 2011 for another unexplained medical leave. Mr. Cook isn't the showman that Mr. Jobs is, but people who know him call him an "operational genius" who was responsible for crafting Apple's current supply-chain system and helping to transform the company into one of the most efficient electronics manufacturers today.

Jobs Resignation Erases $52 Billion From S&P (Bloomberg)
The September contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slumped up to 0.6 percent after Jobs released his statement at 6:34 p.m. in New York yesterday. The measure’s total market value was $9.34 trillion at the close of regular trading at 4 p.m., data compiled by Bloomberg show. Apple fell 5.1 percent.

Bernanke Unlikely To Promise New Action By The Fed (WSJ)
"Bernanke is unlikely to fulfill the markets' hopes that he will pave the way for a third round of asset purchases (QE3)," economists from Toronto's Capital Economics wrote in a note Wednesday. "And even if he did, QE3 is unlikely to boost the economy, equity prices or commodity prices by as much as QE1 and QE2 [did]."

Sarkozy Unveils Pre-election Tax On Wealthy (Bloomberg)
Prime Minister Francois Fillon yesterday announced 12 billion euros ($17 billion) of measures in 2011 and 2012 and cut growth forecasts, saying the euro region’s second-largest economy will expand less than 2 percent in each year. The deficit will be 4.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, when Sarkozy seeks re-election, beating the target.

John Paulson's Losing Streak Continues (WSJ)
Mr. Paulson's Advantage Plus fund has lost 38.7% this year through the end of Friday's trading, according to someone briefed on the figures. The fund has lost 21.7% for the month through Friday, underscoring how rough August has been for the well-known investor. Another fund, Paulson Partners, has lost 14.4% in August through Friday, according to an investor, and is down 11.8% for the year. This is a merger-arbitrage fund that in the past often hasn't had the same volatility as other funds.

Citadel Securities Said to Be Firing Two Dozen Employees in Sales, Trading (Bloomberg, earlier)
Ken Griffin is firing the last of the sales people and traders in his securities business as it focuses on electronic trading, according to two people briefed on the dismissals. The firings today of about two dozen employees come two weeks after Griffin’s New York-based Citadel Securities said it was shutting its equity-research group and its investment bank, ending a three-year effort to build a business that the hedge- fund manager said would rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Junior Bankers Feel Disappointed With Pay (Bloomberg)
One investment banker who participated in the survey described a breach of the “tacit understanding” that he or she would be well compensated. Considering “the sacrifice I make in my personal life (100-hour work weeks, canceled vacations, etc.), this business has to be more rewarding,” the person said, according to Capstone.

95-year-old man attacked by bees, stung hundreds of times (LA Times)
"He literally got stung by thousands of bees," Sgt. Phil Keenan of the Redondo Beach Police Department told The Times. "Most men would have died, but he's taking it in stride."

Citigroup Cuts 2011 Global Growth Forecast to 3.1% (Reuters)
The brokerage cut its global gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for 2011 to 3.1 percent from 3.4 percent, and for 2012, to 3.2 percent from 3.7 percent. Citigroup said it does not currently expect recessions in the major economies as this slowdown in economic growth is not enough to reverse global profits. "But we do expect advanced economy growth will remain sluggish to end-2012 at least, with rising unemployment," the brokerage said in a note to clients dated August 24.

New York Removed From Leadership Role In Bank Foreclosure Settlement Talks (Bloomberg)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was removed from a leadership role in negotiating a nationwide foreclosure settlement with U.S. banks because his office “actively worked to undermine” the effort, a state official said.

SEC Officials Are Focus Of Inquiry (WSJ)
The Securities and Exchange Commission's internal watchdog is investigating whether enforcement officials misled the government's archives agency last year by saying the SEC was "not aware" of the destruction of certain probe-related records, according to people familiar with the matter.

Glencore Warns On Volatility (WSJ)
"The short-term volatility caused by renewed bearishness on sovereign debt in developed markets is of course a concern to us," Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg said. But he noted that looking forward, the company remains "optimistic about long-term global economic prospects, and that the trends that underpin the growth of Glencore's business are firmly in place."

Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back (Bloomberg)
Hayward is again at the helm of a publicly traded company. He teamed up with financier Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of the banking family, to create Vallares Plc, a shell company that raised 1.33 billion pounds ($2.15 billion) through an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange on June 17.

A Rush Out Of 'Junk' (WSJ)
Demand for high-yield bonds sold by the riskiest U.S. companies has nearly dried up, an ominous sign for low-rated companies hoping to tap the bond markets and private-equity firms trying to finance leveraged buyouts. New junk-bond offerings in August were at their lowest level since December 2008.

Man admits sold oxycodone out of SI ice cream truck (NYP)
A literal "good humor" man will spend the next three-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty today to selling massive quantities of prescription oxycodone out of his Staten Island ice cream truck. It had been an open secret that Louis Scala Jr. sold soft-serve and hard drugs -- $20-a-pop "oxy's" -- out of his green-and-white Lickety Split truck, city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan had said in announcing the kooky case back in March. "It did get a little frustrating when [Scala's truck] would be out there at nine o'clock at night," one neighbor complained when the case broke. "I'd think, why the hell is he selling ice cream at night?"

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Photo: Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 6.14.16

Citi, Barclays traders devise Trump hedge; FanDuel, DraftKings may merge; Rancher lassos alleged bicycle thief; and more.

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.”