Opening Bell: 10.02.13

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More Pain Looms For Banks (WSJ)
New troubles are piling up for U.S. banks as they prepare to release third-quarter results amid warnings of weak trading revenue, a sharp decline in mortgage-refinancing activity and rising legal costs. Analysts are scrambling to ratchet down earnings estimates ahead of the reports. J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are slated to post results on Oct. 11, with Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs due to weigh in the following week. Poor results could prompt additional job cuts and worsen the already downcast mood on Wall Street, bankers and recruiters said. "I haven't seen morale this bad since the Titanic," said Richard Stein, a senior recruiter at Caldwell Partners who specializes in financial services.

Shutdown Bars Statue of Liberty Testing Monk’s Serenity (Bloomberg)
As a Buddhist monk, Ashon Nyanuttara suppresses anger and frustration. Even so, he said he was disappointed on arriving in New York’s Battery Park yesterday only to learn that Statue of Liberty tours were canceled. “This is no good for public, especially tourists,” said Nyanuttara, 30, who is visiting from Myanmar, or Burma. “This is an American symbol. The government should keep it open.” The closures upended tourists’ plans and forced about 800,000 federal workers to take unpaid time off until the impasse is resolved. The partial shutdown will cost the nation at least $300 million a day in lost output, according to IHS analysts.

Behind Standoff, A Broken Process In Need Of A Broker (WSJ)
The weeks of public wrangling between House Republicans and Senate Democrats that led to a government shutdown Tuesday lacked one element typical of previous showdowns: actual negotiations. Unlike in earlier standoffs, the two sides haven't engaged in tense, closed-door talks, nor has an unexpected savior swooped in to jump-start stalled conversations, as Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did late last year. Instead, the debate has unfolded in a volley of partisan bills. On Tuesday, there were few signs the posturing would end, with no formal talks scheduled and no obvious indications of who, if anybody, might step forward to bridge the differences.

Mark Cuban Charms Insider Trading Jurors (NYP)
One juror seated at the federal court skirmish called the 55-year-old businessman a “nice guy,” a second said she was “impressed” at how he stood up for his beliefs, while a third said he was “leaning” towards Cuban’s version of events based on what he already knew about the case.

Bartiromo Cited In Divorce (NYP)
Maria Bartiromo could be called as a witness in the nasty divorce of ex-Citigroup honcho Todd S. Thomson, who famously offered the Money Honey a ride on his corporate private jet, sparking rumors of an affair. Thomson — who was Citigroup CFO for five years CEO of Citigroup’s Global Wealth Management Division until he took CNBC doyenne Bartiromo to a 2007 event in Asia on Citi’s jet and then was fired — is in the middle of a bitter divorce with his wife of 25 years, ­Melissa, with whom he has three children. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Thomson, now founder and CEO of Manhattan-based private equity firm Headwaters Capital, bumped execs from the return flight so he might fly back alone with Bartiromo, bankrolled Citi functions and TV shows that featured her, and named the glamorous TV anchor to a board he created inside his alma mater, Wharton business school. Thomson insisted in 2007 that his relationship with Bartiromo, who is married to Jonathan Steinberg, was “appropriate.” But Page Six can now exclusively reveal that a Connecticut court has granted his wife Melissa permission to depose Bartiromo, 46, stating that “certain facts which are in issue, or which directly assist in proving the Plaintiff’s [Melissa’s] case, are within the knowledge or power of [Bartiromo].” Papers filed in Stamford, Conn., by Melissa’s lawyers claim that in April this year, Todd admitted to her “a base, immoral and disreputable act he had committed, and the sight of the Defendant [Todd] now disgusts and traumatizes the Plaintiff.” It is not believed this “act” refers to Bartiromo.

Jaguars mascot loses bet, gets pelted with 40 paintballs (WTSP)
Given the winless Jacksonville Jaguars' standing as the unquestioned worst team in the NFL, it stands to reason that mascot Jaxson DeVille should refrain from betting on his team. And yet, for some reason, the Jaguars' mascot agreed to a wager with the Indianapolis Colts' mascot that the loser of Sunday's game would stand 10 yards in front of a paintball gun and be pelted with the number of paintballs equal to the total points scored. Since the Jaguars lost 37-3, Jaxson DeVille was forced to withstand 40 paintballs - and withstand 40 paintballs he did.

New York To Sue Wells Fargo Over Mortgage Settlement (NYT)
Fielding complaints from borrowers struggling to save their homes, New York's top prosecutor is preparing a lawsuit against Wells Fargo, accusing the bank, the nation's largest home lender, of flouting the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement aimed at stanching foreclosure abuses. The lawsuit, which is expected to be filed as early as Wednesday, accuses Wells Fargo of violating the guidelines of a broad agreement reached last year between five of the nation's largest banks and 49 state attorneys general.

Shutdown may idle non-federal workers next week (CNBC)
The federal government shutdown is already affecting contractors and threatens to dampen private-sector employment, at least in the near-term, industry officials say. Twenty-nine percent of contractors say a shutdown would cause them to delay planned hiring, and 58% said it would have a negative effect on their businesses, according to a survey of 925 contractors this week by the National Association of Government Contractors.

European Central Bank Holds Steady on Rates (NYT)
The European Central Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low Wednesday, but it was likely to be keeping a wary eye on political turmoil in the United States.

Alex Rodriguez tells panel he was duped into taking steroids (NYDN)
According to a source with knowledge of Rodriguez’s ongoing arbitration hearings, the embattled Yankee and his lawyers have presented a case based partly on the idea that Rodriguez believed the substances he procured from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic were innocent legal supplements.

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Opening Bell: 04.18.12

IMF Says Recovery Remains Fragile (WSJ) "An uneasy calm remains," IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard said. "One has the feeling that any moment, things could well get very bad again." Worst Yet to Come as Crisis Rescue Cash Ebbs, Deutsche Bank Says (Bloomberg) The worst may be yet to come in the global financial crisis as the central bank spending that kept defaults low runs out, according to Deutsche Bank AG. Credit-default swap prices imply that four or more European nations may suffer so-called credit events such as having to restructure their debt, strategists led by Jim Reid and Nick Burns said in a note. The Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe Index of contracts on 15 governments including Spain and Italy jumped 26 percent in the past month as the region’s crisis flared up. “If these implied defaults come vaguely close to being realised then the next five years of corporate and financial defaults could easily be worse than the last five relatively calm years,” the analysts in London said. “Much may eventually depend on how much money-printing can be tolerated as we are very close to being maxed out fiscally.” BNY Mellon Profit Falls as Record-Low Rates Cut Returns (Bloomberg) Net income fell to $619 million, or 52 cents a share, from $625 million or 50 cents, a year earlier, BNY Mellon said today in a statement. Analysts (BK) had expected the New York-based company to report a profit of 51 cents a share, according to the average of 15 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Flat BlackRock Profit Tops Forecasts (WSJ) BlackRock reported a profit of $572 million, or $3.14 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $568 million, or $2.89 a share. Stripping out one-time items, per-share earnings rose to $3.16 from $2.96 a year ago. Revenue slipped 1.4% to $2.25 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $3.04 a share on $2.23 billion in revenue, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters. Paulson Goes Short on German Bunds (FT) Paulson told investors in a call on Monday that he was betting against the creditworthiness of Germany, regarded in markets as among the safest sovereign borrowers, because he saw the problems affecting the euro zone deteriorating severely, said a person familiar with his strategy. Guy With Spreadsheet of Match.com ‘Prospects’ Says He Was Just Trying to Be Organized (Jezebel, earlier) "I work with spreadsheets a lot," he said. "It's a great additional tool. I work long days, go to the gym, go out on a couple of midweek dates or what not, get home late...how am I going to remember them? I'm not. So I made the spreadsheets. My comments aren't malicious or mean. This was an honest attempt to stay organized." He said he sent the spreadsheet to his date because "she works with spreadsheets a lot too" and she "seemed like a very sweet girl." Italy Puts Back Balanced Budget Goal by a Year (Reuters) Italy will delay by a year its plan to balance the budget in 2013 due to a weakening economic outlook, according to a draft document due to be approved by the cabinet of Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday. The draft Economic and Financial document (DEF), which has been obtained by Reuters, raises the budget deficit forecasts for 2012-2014 and slashes this year's economic growth outlook. Bank of America Faces Bad Home-Equity Loans: Mortgages (Bloomberg) Bank of America, whose home- equity mortgage portfolio exceeds its stock market value, probably will say about $2 billion of junior loans are bad assets tomorrow even as some borrowers are still paying on time. That’s what Barclays Capital estimates the bank will report in its first-quarter results, following decisions by JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup to reclassify $4.1 billion of junior liens as nonperforming. In Facebook Deal For Instagram, Board Was Little Involved (WSJ) On the morning of Sunday, April 8, Facebook Inc.'s youthful chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, alerted his board of directors that he intended to buy Instagram, the hot photo-sharing service. It was the first the board heard of what, later that day, would become Facebook's largest acquisition ever, according to several people familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg and his counterpart at Instagram, Kevin Systrom, had already been talking over the deal for three days, these people said. Negotiating mostly on his own, Mr. Zuckerberg had fielded Mr. Systrom's opening number, $2 billion, and whittled it down over several meetings at Mr. Zuckerberg's $7 million five-bedroom home in Palo Alto. Later that Sunday, the two 20-somethings would agree on a sale valued at $1 billion.

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