HSBC Profit Rises as It Cuts Costs (WSJ)
Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said the bank has cut 46,000 jobs since 2011, far more than he envisioned when he presented a three-year strategy that year. Then he said he'd shave around 10% from a 300,000-strong workforce. Mr. Gulliver said the bank has had to react to tough economic conditions in many markets, although he said he now sees the banking industry moving "into calmer waters" as the euro-zone crisis appears to have settled down. ... The bank, Europe's largest by assets, reported a sharp rise in first-quarter net profit, to $6.35 billion from $2.58 billion. After stripping out the fluctuating value of HSBC's own debt and sold businesses, underlying pretax profit rose 34% to $7.59 billion from $5.65 billion in the first three months of 2012. Underlying revenue was up 5%, to $17.56 billion from $16.8 billion.
Societe Generale Announces New Cuts as Profit Falls 50% (DealBook)
The bank said first-quarter net income fell 50 percent, to 364 million euros ($476 million), from the period a year earlier. That was well below the 674.6 million euro profit expected by analysts surveyed by Reuters. Société Générale, the second-largest French lender, said it planned 900 million euros of cost reductions through 2015, adding to the 550 million euros of cuts last year. Severin Cabannes, the bank’s deputy chief executive, told CNBC television that the bank was in talks with its unions about eliminating 600 to 700 jobs at its headquarters, but added that there would be “no forced layoffs.”
German finance minister softens stance on EU banking union (Reuters)
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble signaled a softening of his stance on a European banking union on Tuesday, saying the euro zone should press ahead on the basis of current law without waiting for a controversial overhaul of the EU's Lisbon treaty. ... Just last month, Schaeuble appeared to slam on the brakes by saying the European Union needed to consider treaty change before proceeding, due to the "doubtful legal basis" on which the project rested. Those comments sparked a backlash from EU officials and German partners like France.
Portugal’s Notes Rise as Nation Sells 10-Year Debt; Bunds Slide (Bloomberg)
“Portugal’s sale is important because it marks another step in the exit from the crisis,” said Luca Cazzulani, a senior rates strategist at UniCredit SpA (UCG) in Milan. “In the current market environment, there will probably be demand. Investors are rushing into anything that grants you a good yield and when you look at the Portuguese curve the 10-year is around 5.5 percent and so I think the sale will find demand.”
Soros Rumor Underpins Turning Tide Against Aussie (CNBC)
Rumors that George Soros was planning to short the Australia dollar has taken the wind out of the robust currency, fueling expectations that the tide is turning for the Aussie dollar. The Aussie fell 0.6 percent against the U.S. dollar late Monday on a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that bets against the currency totaling $1 billion were placed via Hong Kong and Singapore, believed to be by Soros Fund Management.
Christie reveals secret stomach surgery to lose weight (NYP)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent lap-band stomach surgery to aggressively slim down for the sake of his wife and kids, he revealed to The Post last night. ... “A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full,” he said of his newly tamed appetite. He declined to say how much he lost, but sources said he has already shed nearly 40 pounds. ... Sources said Christie didn’t make the decision lightly — he even had private conversations about the operation with once-rotund Jet coach Rex Ryan.
U.S. Directly Blames China’s Military for Cyberattacks (NYT)
The Obama administration on Monday explicitly accused China’s military of mounting attacks on American government computer systems and defense contractors, saying one motive could be to map “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.” ... [T]he Pentagon report describes something far more sophisticated: A China that has now leapt into the first ranks of offensive cybertechnologies. It is investing in electronic warfare capabilities in an effort to blind American satellites and other space assets, and hopes to use electronic and traditional weapons systems to gradually push the United States military presence into the mid-Pacific nearly 2,000 miles from China’s coast.
Subprime bond bounces back, leaving behind a subprime borrower (Reuters)
"God bless them," Monzione marvels at the traders who flipped the bond of which his loan was a part. "I don't have a clue about what the hell that means to me personally." Monzione has put his finger on a strange disconnect. Some 57 percent of borrowers' loans in MABS 2006-FRE1 are delinquent by 60 days or more, but the bond came roaring back nevertheless. Curiously, its recovery had little to do with the real-world fates of the individuals behind the bond.
The Strange Case of JPMorgan's Fight With Energy Regulators (NetNet)
Microsoft prepares U-turn on Windows 8 (FT)
“Key aspects” of how the software is used will be changed when Microsoft releases an updated version of the operating system this year, Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, said in an interview with the Financial Times. Referring to difficulties many users have had with mastering the software, she added: “The learning curve is definitely real.” ... Richard Doherty, analyst at tech research firm Envisioneering, said: “This is like New Coke, going on for seven months – only Coke listened better.”
Craft Brewers Chug Away Heady Pressure by Bankers to Sell (Bloomberg)
Larry Bell, whose Bell’s Brewery Inc. is among the country’s largest craft brewers, isn’t sure how many solicitation letters, packets and e-mails he gets. He’s trained the receptionist to screen them out. During a meeting a couple of months ago with a major bank, Bell was shown an internal document detailing how to structure deals with various brewers. Bell’s name was on the list. A top executive from a mega-brewer that Bell declined to name once slipped a business card into Bell’s pocket at a beer summit in San Diego saying only, “You’re selling. I’m buying.” Bell wasn’t and didn’t.
Air Force sex-assault chief arrested on sexual battery charges (LAT)
The man leading a U.S. Air Force program responsible for preventing sexual assault has been arrested on suspicion of drunkenly groping a woman in an Arlington, Va., parking lot, officials said Monday.