Opening Bell: 01.09.14

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BlackRock Agrees With N.Y. to End Analyst Survey Program (Bloomberg)
BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, agreed to end an analyst survey program that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman concluded was relied on to execute trades using nonpublic information. BlackRock agreed to discontinue use of the analyst survey program worldwide. It was developed by Scientific Active Equities, or SAE, an investment group within Barclays Global Investors, which BlackRock acquired in 2009, according to the agreement reached yesterday with Schneiderman...Schneiderman’s investigation found that the design of the survey program “allowed it to capture more than previously published analyst views, including nonpublic analyst sentiment that could be used to trade ahead of the market reaction to upcoming analyst reports,” according to the agreement.

Fewest Claims in a Month Show U.S. Labor Market Mending: Economy (Bloomberg)
The number of applications for unemployment insurance payments declined by 15,000 to 330,000 in the period ended Jan. 4, the fewest since the end of November, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. Another report today showed consumers grew a bit more optimistic at the start of 2014.

Draghi Says ECB Will Act If Needed (WSJ)
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi used unexpectedly strong language to stress that the central bank will remain accommodative for as long as necessary, as the central bank kept interest rates at record lows Thursday. Mr. Draghi said the bank stands ready to take further action to prevent excessively low inflation from derailing the euro zone's fragile economic recovery. "We remain determined to maintain the high degree of monetary accommodation and take further decisive action if required," Mr. Draghi said at his monthly news conference, though he added that for now the Governing Council sees no need for immediate action.

Leo: Real ‘Wolf’ coached Quaalude scenes (and it hurt like hell) (NYP)
Leonardo DiCaprio was coached by bad-boy broker Jordan Belfort himself on how to act in a “The Wolf of Wall Street” scene in which the star had to crawl to a car while on drugs. “I didn’t know anything about Quaaludes, and he had taken a tremendous amount of them,” DiCaprio told us at Tuesday’s National Board of Review gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. “I videotaped him on the floor, rolling around, and he really articulated to me that you have every intention of going to a certain destination, but your body doesn’t go along with you. We shot it for, like, a week, and it was a lot of chiropractic work for me because it was incredibly painful.”

Funds With $100 Billion May Be Too Big to Fail, FSB Says (Bloomberg)
Investment funds that manage more than $100 billion in assets may be labeled too big to fail, global regulators said, as they seek to expand financial safeguards beyond banks and insurers. Hedge funds with trading activities exceeding a set value of $400 billion to $600 billion would also be assessed by national authorities to gauge whether they need extra rules because their collapse could spark a crisis, the Financial Stability Board said in a statement yesterday.

Dish Pulling Its Bid For LightSquared (WSJ)
The reversal, after Dish last year put in a bid for $2.2 billion, marks the latest twist in the high-profile case, in which LightSquared has hit a number of speed bumps in its effort to emerge from bankruptcy. Dish is expected to disclose its letter of termination of the bid as soon as Thursday morning, one of the people said. Dish's plans have already met resistance from LightSquared lenders, who want to go forward with the Dish deal. On Tuesday, a lawyer for the lenders said in court he believes Dish has breached a contract by refusing to go through with the purchase of LightSquared's wireless spectrum. The lenders, who own nearly $2 billion in LightSquared bank debt, have proposed a restructuring plan based on Dish's bid.

Yellen hopeful for 3 percent GDP growth in 2014: Time magazine (Reuters)
Janet Yellen, who is set to take over as head of the Federal Reserve next month, is "hopeful" that U.S. economic growth will accelerate in 2014 to 3 percent or more and persistently low inflation will move up toward the central bank's target, according to a Time magazine interview released Thursday. "I think we'll see stronger growth this year," Yellen said in the interview, released online ahead of the Time edition's January 20 publishing date. "Most of my colleagues on the Fed's policymaking committee and I are hopeful that the first digit (of GDP growth) could be 3 rather than 2."

Man arrested after Google+ sends automated invitation to ex with restraining order (NYDN)
A Massachusetts man claims he was arrested after his Google+ account sent an invitation to join his circle to his ex-fiancée who has a restraining order against him. Tom Gagnon was detained after a court ruled the invite broke the strict no-contact terms of the order. The 32-year-old, however, says he never sent the message to his former lover -who's not been named — and that the Web giant sent it itself. Defense attorney Neil Hourihan argued the Google+ social network operates differently from Facebook. Instead of personally selecting friends to add, he said, it sends requests to "anyone you've ever contacted," Salem News reported. Salem District Court judge Robert Brennan confessed to not knowing exactly how Google operates its notification system. He ordered Gagnon held on $500 bail and promised to investigate further.

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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.