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Opening Bell: 09.08.11

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Obama To Challenge Republicans On Jobs (Bloomberg)
The president's address to a rare joint session of Congress on jobs, the top concern of voters as the 2012 election campaign gets under way, will frame the government’s response as one of either action or delay on reviving the economy. On taxes, the signature Republican issue, he will cast himself as a champion of relief for the middle class rather than for the wealthy. Obama will propose a more than $300 billion stimulus plan in the Republican-controlled House chamber as job growth stalls and the unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent. His job- approval ratings are scraping new lows as public doubts about his stewardship of the economy rise. “The president has had a difficult summer,” said Democratic political consultant Tad Devine, a senior strategist for the Al Gore and John Kerry presidential campaigns. “All of the polling is heading in the wrong direction. He needs a circuit breaker.”

ECB Holds Rates As Recession Fears Mount (Reuters)
The European Central Bank held interest rates at 1.5 percent on Thursday and is likely to indicate that a policy tightening cycle it began in April is on hold in the face of growing evidence the euro zone's economic recovery is losing momentum.

German Finance Minister: Situation In Greece Is 'Serious' (Reuters)

Market Conditions Leave David Tepper Cautious (II)
Sources say the Appaloosa manager has gone 30 percent to 40 percent in cash, which is very high for him. Some of his cash is invested in U.S. Treasuries...he is not preparing to aggressively start spending this cash any time soon, except to pick up some shares of stocks he already owns on the dips.

Financial Firms' Ceilings (WSJ)
Ms. Krawcheck believes that her abrupt exit from Bank of America "is not a woman's issue," a person familiar with her thinking said. "She doesn't feel that. This was a business decision. The music stopped, and she didn't have a chair."

Yahoo Seen Willing To Take Any Bid After Bartz (Bloomberg)
Carol Bartz’s ouster is giving companies from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Microsoft Corp the chance to buy Yahoo! Inc.’s earnings virtually for free.

Rising Fears Of Recession (NYT)
“The chances that we are in something that is going to feel like a recession are close to 100 percent,” said Joshua Shapiro of MFR Inc. in New York, who has diagnosed the economy more accurately than many other forecasters lately. “Whether we reach the technical definition”—which is determined by a committee of academic economists and based on gross domestic product, employment and other factors—“I think is probably close to 50-50.”

Gumby Botches Robbery Of 7-11 (CBS)
San Diego police say a suspect, dressed up as Gumby, tried to rob a 7-Eleven on Labor Day. The botched robbery happened just after midnight Monday in Rancho Penasquitos. Surveillance tape shows the costumed bandit telling the clerk he is being robbed and reportedly demands a pack of cigarettes and cash. The flexible suspect then tried to pull out what he said was a gun from his costume. Apparently flustered, Gumby dropped 27 cents on the floor and left the convenience store empty-handed.

Fed Prepares To Act (WSJ)
Three of the five regional bank presidents who have a vote on monetary policy dissented in August because they didn't want the Fed to pledge to keep interest rates low for another two years, as it chose to do. They seem likely to resist additional actions. "It is unlikely that the [economic] data in September will warrant adding still more accommodation," Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said in a speech Tuesday.

Feared SEC Watchdog Preps Slew Of Reports (WSJ)
The reports, to be issued this month by the SEC's inspector general, involve several serious issues that could help determine the agency's standing on Capitol Hill. They include allegations that regulators destroyed documents relating to initial probes; alleged conflicts of interest concerning payments to Bernard Madoff victims; the "revolving door" between the SEC and Wall Street; and the financial package offered a former SEC official. The reports "involve significant aspects of the SEC's operations, whether it's ethical controls or how the agency deals with important records," said David Kotz, the SEC's inspector general. Though he declined to comment on the findings of the reports, Mr. Kotz said: "There's a lot of congressional interest in our findings." "We look forward to receiving the reports," said John Nester, an SEC spokesman.

Moynihan Tries To Keep BofA Intact As Mortgages Fall Apart (Bloomberg)
On the afternoon of Aug. 23, Gary G. Lynch, the global chief of legal, compliance, and regulatory relations for Bank of America, was attending a meeting in Washington when the floor heaved. Although Lynch, a lanky 61-year-old attorney with swept- back white hair, had never experienced an earthquake, he possessed the good sense to get beneath a sturdy conference table, along with several other people, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Sept. 12 issue. “If the ceiling came down,” he recalled, “I thought we were dead.” The ceiling held, despite the magnitude 5.8 quake rippling from its epicenter in Virginia. Minutes later, Lynch pulled out his BlackBerry and discovered another startling development: a rumor rattling Wall Street that Bank of America might get swept into an involuntary, government-orchestrated rescue by its smaller rival JPMorgan Chase & Co. “This is really getting nuts,” he thought.

Corpse Found In Tub With TV Weatherman (MFDC)
Homeowner Christopher Barbour, who says he is a friend of 33-year-old KARK weatherman Brett Cummins, told police that he woke up Monday morning and found his friend asleep in his bathtub with a dead man wearing a dog collar lying next to him. Barbour told investigators Cummins had brought a friend that Barbour knew only as "Dexter" over the night before and the three were drinking and snorting drugs. Barbour said he later went to sleep on his couch, and woke up around 8 a.m. the next morning. He heard snoring from the bathroom and saw the two men in the tub, which had no water in it. He shook Cummins awake, and the two tried to wake "Dexter."


Opening Bell: 04.13.12

JPMorgan Profit Slips (WSJ) J.P. Morgan reported a profit of $5.38 billion, down from $5.56 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, earnings were $1.31, up from $1.28 as the share count outstanding declined. The latest quarter included a net 8-cent per-share loss tied to litigation expenses and changes in the value of the bank's debt. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a per-share profit of $1.18, excluding debt-related charges. Revenue rose 6.3% to $27.42 billion. Analysts were looking for $24.68 billion. Wells Fargo reports higher first-quarter profit (Reuters) Wells Fargo, the nation's fourth-biggest U.S. bank, said net income was $4.25 billion, or 75 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $3.76 billion, or 67 cents, a share in the same period a year earlier. The average estimate from analysts was 73 cents per share. JPMorgan Said to Transform Treasury to Prop Trading (Bloomberg) Achilles Macris, hired in 2006 as the CIO’s top executive in London, led an expansion into corporate and mortgage-debt investments with a mandate to generate profits for the New York- based bank, three of the former employees said. Dimon, 56, closely supervised the shift from the CIO’s previous focus on protecting JPMorgan from risks inherent in its banking business, such as interest-rate and currency movements, they said. Some of Macris’s bets are now so large that JPMorgan probably can’t unwind them without losing money or roiling financial markets, the former executives said, based on knowledge gleaned from people inside the bank and dealers at other firms. Bank Bonus That Tops Salary May Be Banned by EU Lawmakers (Bloomberg) Governments and lawmakers in the 27-nation EU are considering rules for lenders that would go far beyond international agreements approved by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Denmark, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has proposed empowering nations to set surcharges of up to 3 percent across their banking systems. Karas yesterday suggested adding language to the legislation that would ban banker bonuses that exceed fixed pay, following calls from other lawmakers to rein in excessive compensation. IMF Lifts Growth Forecast, Cautiously (WSJ) Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the world economy is marked by "a high degree of instability" even though prospects for global growth are better than they were a few months ago. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Lagarde said the IMF, which marked down its 2012 forecast for global growth in January to 3.3%, has now marked it up to reflect improving conditions in the world economy. But she said the new forecast, to be released next week, remains more pessimistic than the one it made last September, which predicted 4% growth. Europe remains the biggest single risk to the global economy, the former French finance minister said. Hedge Fund Driver Guns DownArmed Robber (NYP) A retired NYPD lieutenant blew away a drugstore bandit yesterday as the suspect tried to gun down three police officers during a foot pursuit, sources said. Thomas Barnes, Barnes — a driver for hedge fund manager Philippe Laffont, was filling his tank at the BP station on East 119th Street and First Avenue at around 11 a.m. when he saw gunman Rudolph Wyatt running from the store, and sprang into action. He crouched behind his hedge-fund boss’ Mercedes SUV and squeezed off three shots, killing Wyatt, 23. The trigger-happy thug — wanted on warrants for two other shootings — lay dead in a pool of blood on the sidewalk wearing a black stocking mask with a wad of stolen cash spilling out of his pocket, witnesses said. “Part of the back of his head was missing. He had a large head wound and there was tons of blood,” said witness John Brecevich, 59, owner of the Original Patsy’s restaurant nearby. “It was a scene straight out of NYPD Blue.” Trustees Aim For MF Execs (NYP) The trustee tasked with clawing back money for burned customers of MF Global is training his sights on the brokerage firm’s executives — a list that likely includes former CEO Jon Corzine. In a statement yesterday, trustee James Giddens said he is considering pursuing claims against “certain responsible individuals” who worked for MF at the time customers’ trading accounts were improperly tapped. Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Giddens, declined to name names but said the trustee is considering civil suits against “officers, directors or other employees” of both the brokerage firm and the holding company. Fed Officials Differ on Need to Keep Rates Low to 2014 (Bloomberg) William C. Dudley, president of the New York Fed, and Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said the 2014 time-frame is needed to lower unemployment from 8.2 percent. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said rising inflation may prompt an interest-rate increase as early as this year, while Philadelphia’s Charles Plosser said policy should hinge on economic performance, not a calendar commitment. Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Race into home fire was a "come to Jesus moment" (CBS) Booker arrived home last night to discover his next-door neighbor's house on fire, and rescued a young woman trapped upstairs by carrying here through the flames, suffering second-degree burns in the process. The mayor's security team discovered the fire and pounded on the door to alert residents, when an elderly woman said that her daughter was trapped upstairs. At first, Newark Police Detective Alex Rodriguez would not let Booker into the burning house. "He basically told me, 'This woman is going to die if we don't help her,' and what can I say to that?," Rodriguez said. "I let him go and without thinking twice, he just ran into the flames and rescued this young lady." Booker said that as he jumped through the kitchen on the second floor, "I actually wasn't thinking. When I got there and couldn't find her in all the smoke, looked behind me and saw the kitchen really erupting with flames all over the ceiling, that's when I had very clear thoughts that I'm not going to get out of this place alive and got ... very religious. He admitted he was "not gentle" with her - "I just sort of threw her over my shoulder and dragged her through the kitchen."