Opening Bell: 05.22.13


Bernanke Expected to Deliver Dovish Message (CNBC)
Bernanke appears before the Joint Economic Committee at 10 a.m. EDT, and at 2 p.m., the minutes of the last Fed meeting will be released. "The doves are taking back the reins. The hawks had their day in the sun," said George Goncalves, Treasury strategist at Nomura Americas. "I think the bond market is going to be happy because Bernanke's going to reiterate his dovishness, and he's still cautious, but he's constructive on the economy," said Goncalves. "I think all markets are going to be pleasantly surprised tomorrow. I think the minutes might introduce some volatility because there's definitely tension at the Fed about when to stop and when to do more."

Instant Bloomberg not going to fade away yet (FT)
The biggest challenge in persuading banks to change their messaging habits, Mr Hod admits, is that “many of their clients are talking to them on Bloomberg”. Other questions any rival chat system must answer include who will own and secure sensitive messaging data, and what regulatory oversight will it allow. ... Two rival executives said the record of failed past attempts meant they doubted that threats to Bloomberg’s messaging dominance would emerge overnight. But just as Facebook usurped MySpace, one said, Bloomberg’s community could also one day switch to a new social network.

Sony Board to Discuss Third Point Plan (WSJ)
Under pressure from an activist investor to take part of its entertainment business public, Sony Corp. said it plans to discuss the proposal with its board. "The proposal from Third Point, Dan Loeb is something that we should discuss thoroughly at a board meeting and then we'll decide Sony's stance," Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said in a briefing Wednesday to lay out his strategic vision for the company. "Therefore, we are now going to start the discussion and we are still at the starting stage."

BoJ holds amid signs of economy ‘picking up’ (FT)
The Bank of Japan kept its monetary settings on hold on Wednesday, judging that the huge stimulus unveiled in April will be enough to spur price gains in the world’s third-largest economy. In its statement, the central bank said its decision to stand pat – which was widely anticipated by investors – came amid signs of “positive movements” in economic activity in Japan, supported by the bank’s pledge in April to double the country’s monetary base within two years to achieve a 2 per cent rate of inflation.

Buffett, With His Magic Touch, May Be Irreplaceable (DealBook)
The ability to make acquisitions on favorable terms is a testament to Mr. Buffett’s personality and skills as a deal maker. It also highlights an almost unsolvable problem for his company, Berkshire Hathaway, and its shareholders. When its 82-year-old chief executive is gone, who will negotiate such sweet deals? ... Mr. Buffett has a unique ability to not only score a low acquisition price, but he can scare off competitors and attract other investors. Boards of target companies also appear to run into his grasp.

Vatican denies claims Pope Francis performed public exorcism (AP)
Is Pope Francis an exorcist? The question has bubbled up ever since Francis laid his hands on the head of a young man in a wheelchair after celebrating Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square. The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, shook, then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him. The television station of the Italian bishops' conference reported Monday that it had surveyed exorcists, who agreed there was "no doubt" that Francis either performed an exorcism or a prayer to free the man from the devil. The Vatican was more cautious. In a statement Tuesday, it said Francis "didn't intend to perform any exorcism. But as he often does for the sick or suffering, he simply intended to pray for someone who was suffering who was presented to him."

Investors Brave Loans That Fly Solo (WSJ)
Since the financial crisis, bonds backed by a single loan have been less common than securities made up of a group of unrelated loans. Investors generally have viewed a collection of loans as less risky. Issuance of single-borrower deals so far this year has reached $12.1 billion—more than the $10.1 billion issued in all of 2012, according to data from Commercial Mortgage Alert, an industry newsletter. This transformation of the market for commercial financing is the latest sign of how far income-starved investors will go to land higher-yielding securities. Also undergirding the rise of the single-loan bond market, say investors and analysts, is a tweak in how some commercial-mortgage deals are evaluated by credit-rating firm Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.

Brokerage Firm to Pay $7.5 Million Fine to Regulators (DealBook)
LPL, with headquarters in San Diego and Boston, has been fined by several state and national regulators in recent years. Critics have said that the problems were a result of the firm’s decentralized business model and its difficulty supervising the company’s fast-growing network of more than 13,000 brokers, which ranks it behind only Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. ... Finra said that LPL had numerous lapses in its efforts to monitor and retain e-mails. That resulted in problems like 80 million corrupted e-mails, and the failure to review 28 million messages sent by LPL brokers working as independent contractors.

Fannie Mae: Zombie Stock Turns Cash Cow (CNBC)
[Ed Mills of FBR Capital Markets] said investors are weaving an exciting tale, but one unlikely to have a happy ending. At first it was small individual investors, but now larger hedge funds, like Paulson and Co and Perry Capital, are getting in, according to several published reports. While members of Congress have yet to pass any legislation toward dismantling Fannie and Freddie or returning them to private companies, with or without a government backstop, the idea that they would just give them back to shareholders is, again, unlikely.

SAP seeks programmers with autism (FT)
SAP announced on Tuesday that it hoped people with autism – a developmental condition that can impair a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others – would ultimately account for 1 per cent of its 64,000 strong workforce. ... SAP is not alone in targeting autistic people as potential employees. Auticon, a Berlin-based consultancy, exclusively hires people with the condition as software testers. Four of its consultants were recently employed by Vodafone for a project in Düsseldorf. “[People with autism] have strong attention to detail and an ability to identify mistakes. If they look at a program code they are able to see very quickly if there’s a mistake,” Auticon said. “Our people like IT and programming. They have an unbelievable focus and motivation.”

Disgraced ex-congressman Weiner announces candidacy for NYC mayor (Reuters)
"I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons," Weiner said in the video. "I'm running because I've been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life."

Police: Man wore ankle monitor during 20+ break-ins in Ohio (UPI)
Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said Kilmire allegedly conducted more than 20 break-ins in multiple jurisdictions while wearing the monitor, which was placed on his ankle when he was released on bond April 11 following an April 3 breaking and entering arrest. "This rises to the level of not the most brilliant person," Edwards said.