Opening Bell: 09.04.13

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S&P Accuses U.S. of Vengeance (WSJ)
S&P has previously indicated that it believes the U.S. lawsuit was politically motivated, but the language in Tuesday's court filing is its strongest to date. The Justice Department "commenced this action in retaliation for [S&P's] exercise of their free speech rights with respect to the creditworthiness of the United States of America," lawyers for S&P wrote in court documents filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. A Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that "the allegation is preposterous."

Switzerland Still Most Competitive Economy as U.S., Germany Gain (Bloomberg)
Switzerland remained the most competitive economy as the U.S. and Germany gained ground lost in recent years, the World Economic Forum said. Switzerland held the top spot for a fifth year, while Germany and the U.S. rose two slots to fourth and fifth respectively in the Geneva-based organization’s 148-nation league. Singapore and Finland retained their second and third positions.

Protégés’ funds soar (NYP)
Call it the battle of the mini-titans. Two new activist hedge funds — one run by a former Carl Icahn lieutenant and the other by one of Bill Ackman’s former portfolio managers — are battling with more established rivals to become the fastest-growing funds of the year. Corvex Management, the fund launched in 2011 by Keith Meister, the 39-year-old former right-hand man of Icahn, hit $4.2 billion on July 1 — a 106 percent gain this year. Meanwhile, Marcato Capital Management, founded in 2010 by 36-year-old Mick McGuire after a stint as a portfolio manager at Ackman’s Pershing Square, grew by 80 percent in the first half of this year to $1.8 billion.

JPMorgan Case Tests U.S. Law on Buying Influence Abroad (Dealbook)
Reports that JPMorgan Chase hired scores of children of powerful government officials throughout Asia have put the bank squarely in the sights of the United States government for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. An investigation will test how broadly the law applies to almost commonplace conduct by firms seeking any small advantage over rivals to win business from foreign governments.

SEC chief calls for ‘exchange’ (NYP)
Wall Street watchdog Mary Jo White wants the major market exchanges to play nice. The Securities and Exchange Commission chief is holding a meeting next week with exchange bosses after Nasdaq OMX and NYSE Euronext took turns blaming each other for a technical glitch that paralyzed trading in thousands of Nasdaq-listed stocks for nearly three hours. A key talking point will be how well the rival exchanges work together during times of crisis, according to sources. “The finger-pointing has to stop,” said one exchange official, who declined to be identified ahead of the meeting. The squabbling makes the exchanges look “like a bunch of fools and just leads to further degradation of confidence in the market,” the source added. Regulators called for the face-to-face powwow after Nasdaq, led by CEO Bob Greifeld, was quick to point the finger at archrival NYSE for the massive Aug. 22 meltdown.

Man wears sign apologizing for threatening police (WKYC)
If you passed by Cleveland's Second District police station Monday, you may have noticed an unusual sight -- a man wearing a sign. The signs says he is an idiot for making 911 calls threatening police. Richard Dameron, 58, threatened police during 911 calls and then skipped out on his punishment. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Pinkey Carr ordered him to hold a sign this week outside of the Second District police station in Cleveland. The sign reads, in part: "I was being an idiot and it will never happen again." He told Carr he couldn't show up to his last court appearance because he didn't have a ride.

Euro-Zone Recovery Broadens (WSJ)
The figures bolster signs the euro-zone economy as a whole will continue to grow in the third quarter. The recovery is expected to be fragile, however, since affordable corporate loans are hard to come by in many countries and unemployment across the currency area is close to record highs.

Dark Clouds Over Australia's Economy (WSJ)
For more than two decades, Australia's economy has avoided recession, fed by a mining boom that forged one of the world's richest societies. Now, that once-in-a-generation expansion—stoked by China's demand for Australia's natural resources—could be coming to a close. As China's economic engine slows, sending prices for iron ore and coal sharply lower, Australia is facing an economic dislocation, with unemployment rising to a 12-year high and growth slowing rapidly. The economy expanded by 2.6% on-year in the 12 months to end-June, data released Wednesday showed, much slower than quarterly growth rates as high as 4% last year.

Emerging Nations Save $2.9 Trillion Reserves in Rout (Bloomberg)
Developing nations from Brazil to India are preserving a record $2.9 trillion of foreign reserves and opting instead to raise interest rates and restrict imports to stem the worst rout in their currencies in five years. Foreign reserves of the 12 biggest emerging markets, excluding China and countries with pegged currencies, fell 1.6 percent this year compared with an 11 percent slump after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The 20 most-traded emerging-market currencies have weakened 8 percent in 2013 as the Federal Reserve’s potential paring of stimulus lures away capital.

LinkedIn To Offer $1 Billion In Stock (WSJ)
LinkedIn is offering Class A shares valued at $1 billion, with underwriters holding the option to sell $150 million in additional stock, according to the filing. LinkedIn said the proceeds will be used for general purposes, ranging from improving its balance sheet to investments in international expansion and product development.

Speed Demon's Manhattan Record (NYP)
A driver set an illegal land speed record for a single lap around the borough — cutting and weaving through the 26.5-mile route in a hair-raising 24 minutes. The anonymous speed demon averaged about 66 mph during the late-night circuit, which was captured on a dramatic dashboard-cam video and posted to YouTube under the username AfroDuckProduction. The drive breaks the previous mark of 26 minutes set in 2010. In both runs, the drivers cut out the top of Manhattan above the Cross Bronx Expressway. “You frankly can’t identify who I am by just looking at the video,” AfroDuck boasted to the car-geek Web site Jalopnik about his Aug. 26 ride, “and records were meant to be broken.” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly promised to hunt down the dangerous driver, saying, “We now have license-plate readers in the city that will assist in this type of investigation.”

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