Holiday Bell: 11.25.11

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Crisis Ramps Up As Markets Punish Italy (WSJ)
Italy has now joined Ireland, Greece, Portugal in having two-year yields that are higher than 10-year yields, an abnormality called an inverted yield curve. It indicates worries about the country's immediate future and indicates a risk that investors might have to write down the value of the bonds they hold. The curves in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal all inverted before they sought external assistance. A potential shutdown of the Italian bond market, the world's third largest, would have disastrous consequences. If the country found itself unable to raise funds from the market at affordable rates, the firefighting capabilities of the euro area's rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, would be severely tested.

Violence Erupts as Shoppers Rush for Black Friday Deals (AP)
The early morning crowds were mostly peaceful, but Los Angeles authorities say 20 people at a local Walmart store suffered minor injuries when a woman used pepper spray to gain a "competitive" shopping advantage shortly after the store opened on Thursday evening. In Fayetteville, N.C., police are looking for two suspects after gunfire erupted early Friday at Cross Creek Mall. And police say two women have been injured and a man charged after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart. Later in the morning, a Phoenix television station KSAZ reported that a grandfather in a Walmart in Buckeye, Ariz., was roughed up by police after the man allegedly put a game in his waistband so that he could lift his grandson out of the crowd. Witnesses told the station that police slammed the man to the ground — possibly thinking he was stealing the game.

Gunfire erupts at NC mall as early shoppers arrive (AP)
uthorities say gunfire erupted at a North Carolina mall as holiday shoppers gathered, though there are no reports of any injuries. No evacuation was ordered, but several shoppers left the mall and some smaller stores closed. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office says detectives are looking for two suspects after gunfire rang out at Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville early Friday.

Hedge Fund Titan Cohen Plans Bid For Dodgers (WSJ)
In a move that shows how serious Mr. Cohen is about bidding for the team, the billionaire founder of SAC Capital Advisors has been discussing the bid with Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., the people familiar with the matter said. The veteran investment banker has close ties to the leaders of Major League Baseball. Mr. Greenberg served as deputy commissioner of baseball, and has represented many baseball owners and bidders, including New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz. He is considered by many in the business to be the banker-of-choice for MLB when it comes to team sales and acquisitions. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenberg dealt with each other earlier this year when Mr. Greenberg was looking to sell a $200 million stake in the Mets on behalf of Messrs. Wilpon and Katz. Mr. Cohen ultimately decided not to pursue the Mets, who reached a deal with another hedge fund manager, David Einhorn, only to see it fall through over the summer.

Investors Find Little To Feast On (WSJ)
Historically, stocks have tended to do well in the fourth week of November, as Americans baste their turkeys and head to the shopping mall. But for the fifth Thanksgiving in six years, the stock market is bringing little joy. Heading into Friday's half-day session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 4.6% this week, putting this Thanksgiving week on track to be the worst one since 1942, when the holiday was formally fixed as the fourth Thursday of November. It is also on pace to be the blue-chip index's worst week in the past ten.

Bank Commodity Staff Turnover Seen Gaining (Bloomberg)
The world’s biggest investment banks have greater staff turnover in commodities than in fixed-income and currencies because of tightening regulations on trading, according to Coalition, a London-based research company...JPMorgan and Bank of America are among banks that shut units trading the banks’ money in commodities before the implementation of the Volcker rule in 2012 that will limit such practices. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is curbing the size of positions any one party can take in U.S. raw-material derivatives. Revenue from banks’ commodity units is still growing faster than overall sales, Coalition said.

Image Expert Shapes Romney (His Hair, Anyway) (NYTimes)
Nobody has a more complicated and intimate relationship with Mr. Romney’s hair than the man who has styled it for more than two decades, a barrel-chested, bald Italian immigrant named Leon de Magistris. For years, Mr. de Magistris said in an interview, he has tried to persuade Mr. Romney, 64, to loosen up his look by tousling his meticulous mane. “I will tell him to mess it up a little bit,” said Mr. de Magistris, 69. “I said to him, ‘Let it be more natural.’ ” The suggestion has not gone over well. “He wants a look that is very controlled,” Mr. de Magistris said. “He is a very controlled man. The hair goes with the man.”...The cut is so recognizable that men in this well-heeled suburb of Boston ask for it by name. “The Mitt,” they whisper to Mr. de Magistris from the red vinyl chairs in his upscale salon, Leon & Co., a few blocks from the sprawling home where Mr. Romney raised his family. Mr. de Magistris, who gave Mr. Romney a $70 trim three weeks ago, agreed to share some of the secrets behind his most famous client’s coiffure in between haircuts the other day. No, he said, Mr. Romney does not color his hair. Any such artificial enhancement, Mr. de Magistris said, “is not — what do you call it? — in his DNA.” Despite holding its shape under all but the most extreme conditions, it is gel and mousse-free. “I don’t put any product in there,” he avowed.

Legal Experts Delays Eviction Efforts At UBS (CityAM)
Attempts by UBS to evict protesters from its disused City offices have been delayed after the Occupy group challenged mistakes in the legal papers. The Swiss bank will make a second effort to have the activists removed on Monday, after initially serving a notice on the group last Friday...the paperwork had not been stamped by court officials, was unsigned and did not show a claim number. The protesters have “repossessed” the property on Sun Street, behind Liverpool Street Station, and taken over four floors, following the establishment of other camps outside St Paul’s and at Finsbury Circus. The group has also discussed taking over the three other empty buildings in the UBS complex.

JPMorgan Yuan Fund Approved (WSJ)
J.P. Morgan Asset Management, an arm of U.S. bank J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., received permission from the Beijing city government to create a $1 billion RMB fund under the new Qualified Foreign Limited Partner program, people familiar with the matter said, allowing the U.S. firm to become the biggest foreign manager of a yuan-denominated fund to date.

Record Gold Hoard Spurs Bullish Bets (Bloomberg)
Eighteen of 26 surveyed by Bloomberg expect bullion to rise next week. Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by gold reached a record 2,350.8 metric tons on Nov. 23, now valued at $127.8 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Hedge funds and other speculators increased their net-long position, or bets on higher prices, for four weeks, the longest stretch since March, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

Air France A340 Flew With Missing Screws (Bloomberg)
An Airbus (EAD) SAS A340 operated by Air France-KLM (AF) Group was halted in Boston in mid-November after about 30 screws were found to be missing from a protective panel, the airline said.

Hungary Credit Rating Cut to Junk at Moody’s (Bloomberg)
Hungary must redouble efforts to obtain International Monetary Fund aid and the central bank should raise rates to ease financing risks after Moody’s Investors Service cut the country’s credit grade to junk, said fund managers from Budapest to London. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who shunned seeking an IMF loan since coming to power last year until the forint fell to a record against the euro this month, may need to accelerate talks with the Washington-based lender to bolster investor confidence, fund managers at Aegon Fund Management, Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN), and K&H Fund Management said.

Rating Firms' MF Global Ties To Be Explored (WSJ)
Lawmakers on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, who are conducting the Corzine hearing, also plan to home in on the back and forth between Mr. Corzine and rating firms such as Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings, the person familiar with the matter said.

Typo Leads To Wrong Candidate’s Election In Connecticut (CBS)
A typo has led to the election of the wrong man to a finance board in Derby. James J. Butler was the highest vote-getter, winning 1,526 votes for the 10-member Board of Apportionment and Taxation, which oversees the town’s finances. However, his father, 72-year-old James R. Butler, was nominated by the Democratic Town Committee for a second, two-year term. The News Times of Danbury and New Haven Register report that James R. Butler says his 46-year-old son is not interested in politics or serving in public office.

Banks, Politics Seen Pushing Euro Zone Into Recession (CNBC)
Economists at Goldman Sachs expect the euro zone to fall into recession in the fourth quarter, on the back of "a negative confidence shock and tighten fiscal policy, combined with private-sector deleveraging in the periphery." They predict overall growth of 0.1 percent for the single currency area next year, but say that "funding difficulties for banks represent a clear downside risk to this forecast." Tensions in the banking system are not yet visible in lending data for the area, but they could lead to a "significant" worsening of funding conditions for companies and households, the Goldman Sachs economists wrote in a research note.

More American Sex Dolls to Travel to Colombia in 2012 (Gawker)
According to the Spanish-language Portafolio, the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement—which makes more than 80 percent of consumer products duty-free and phases out tariffs—will enable America's high-quality sex toys to be shipped to Colombia more cheaply than before. This will make them more affordable for sex shop owners and—high mark-ups aside—for their customers. Americans make money, Colombians make money, and Colombians also have better sex.

Occupy Wall Street Aims At Holiday Shopping (WSJ)
From Seattle to Long Island, New York, activists are planning a host of actions during the Black Friday shopping weekend—from marching on Wal-Mart Stores Inc. supercenters and organizing sit-ins at malls to cutting up credit cards and running faux stores to exchange used items and avoid consumerism. Though the activities are set to begin Friday, they are part of a larger protest known as OccupyXmas that will continue through Dec. 25. "Consumer overconsumption has gotten us into this mess and the economic crisis to begin with," said Dana Balitki, a spokeswoman for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. "The work we're trying to do is to get people to care about the country, to get us focused on how we can take care of each other, redirect our resources and learn how to better connect with each other."

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