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Opening Bell: 02.03.14

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Rate Decision to Drive Yellen's Early Agenda (WSJ)
Among Ms. Yellen's most critical decisions is when to start lifting interest rates. If she and her colleagues wait too long, they could fuel high inflation or financial bubbles; if they move too soon, they could damp a recovery that is just gaining steam. Key to that decision is making sense of the falling unemployment rate. She and other Fed officials worry it masks large pockets of stress still plaguing the labor market, including millions of people who want work but aren't looking anymore and therefore are no longer counted as unemployed.

Jos. A. Bank Stands Its Ground (WSJ)
Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. took the offensive in its effort to fend off a proposed takeover by Men's Wearhouse Inc., entering talks of its own to buy fellow apparel retailer Eddie Bauer LLC and issuing a sharply worded rebuke to its rival's latest bid to negotiate a deal. Jos. A. Bank is in discussions for a possible takeover of Eddie Bauer, people familiar with the matter said this weekend. Such an acquisition could value Eddie Bauer at as much as $1 billion, one of the people said. A deal between the two companies isn't imminent, another of the people said. News of the possible Eddie Bauer takeover comes amid a monthslong, rancorous effort by Jos. A. Bank and Men's Wearhouse, both discount men's suit retailers, to buy each other. Jos. A. Bank announced its intent to buy larger rival Men's Wearhouse in October. After that effort was rebuffed, Men's Wearhouse mounted its own effort to buy Jos. A. Bank, which was in turn rejected. If Jos. A. Bank consummated a deal with closely held Eddie Bauer, it would likely complicate or put an end to the Men's Wearhouse quest to buy the company, in part by making it much more expensive.

FTC chief to meet consumer activists about Herbalife (NYP)
Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez is feeling the heat. One week after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent the FTC boss a letter asking her to investigate Herbalife, Ramirez agreed to meet with minority and consumer activists to hear their pyramid concerns about the company, The Post has learned. Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which asked for the meeting Jan. 27, said more than a dozen activists from around the country will also meet with Ramirez on Feb. 5. The group, while in Washington, will bring former Herbalife distributors, who say they are victims of the company’s alleged pyramid activities, to meet with Congressional representatives.

Puerto Rico Seeking $2 Billion Debt Offering (WSJ)
Puerto Rico is preparing a debt offering of some $2 billion in coming weeks amid increasing pressure from credit-rating firms and investors for the U.S. territory to shore up its finances, according to people familiar with the plans. Within days, island officials will choose the type of debt they will use from several options scrutinized in meetings with rating firms and bankers since late last year, the people said. A team of Puerto Rico officials including Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta Febo met last week with analysts at Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings to discuss the island's fiscal outlook, the Puerto Rico Treasury said in a statement.

‘Mass-Transit Super Bowl’ Hits Some Rough Patches in Moving Fans (NYT)
About four hours before Sunday’s Super Bowl kickoff, fans of all jersey colors appeared to achieve a moment of angry unity while stuck inside a Secaucus, N.J., rail station. The air was stale, the heat had become blistering, and the ordeal was going on and on, approaching an hour. “A.C.! A.C.!” the fans shouted in a plea for cooler conditions as they strained to get a little closer to the connecting trains to MetLife Stadium...In the steamy, uncomfortable backup in Secaucus, Karin Rivale, of Aurora, Colo., predicted that she would lose about 5 pounds before reaching the stadium. As she spoke, people around her began peeling off layers. A burlier fan suggested he might be 20 pounds lighter by the time he reached the stadium. Several fans wondered aloud what had become of what was supposed to be a historic cold-weather Super Bowl. Other jeers included shouts of “T.S.A.!” in reference to the federal Transportation Security Administration and its airport security lines, and “Blame Christie!” a jab at New Jersey’s embattled governor, who is now ensnared in an investigation into a traffic jam of an entirely different kind. When one group of stuck fans attempted a call-and-response chant of “Sea!” and “Hawks!” a Broncos fan, Matt Budreau, decided to intercede. “Sea!” the fans said. “Caucus!” Budreau replied.

Joe Namath botches coin toss, nails fur coat (NYP)
Namath, dressed in a waist-length, hooded mink coach despite the seasonably warm weather conditions, tried to toss the coin before the captains had picked heads or tails. Referee Terry McAulay caught it before it landed. Seattle won the toss anyway, and deferred.

Rhode Island teachers exit Loeb fund (NYP)
The move is the latest salvo in a simmering feud between Loeb, a handful of other hedge fund titans and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Loeb and other hedgies have criticized the AFT and public-sector pensions, and have made sizable donations to groups that back charter schools, which operate outside the teachers union’s circle of influence. In reaction to that stance, Weingarten put together last April a “watch list” of money managers — a list that included Loeb, David Tepper and Paul Singer — who should not receive teacher pension money. Rhode Island’s General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat who chairs the investment commission that made the decision to exit Third Point, has been pulled into the battle. Raimondo is a candidate for governor and was honored by the conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute, for overhauling Rhode Island’s pension system, and turning part of it into a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. Loeb is a trustee of the Manhattan Institute. Unionized state workers and retirees charge that Raimondo is relying on an investment strategy that is too risky and too expensive. At the end of 2013, Third Point had a 49 percent return. But the commission believed the fund was becoming too risky and wanted to pull out, according to a report.

Gates Seen Taking Bigger Products Role at Microsoft (Bloomberg)
As the board prepares to appoint Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s next chief executive officer, it’s considering replacing Gates as board chairman, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Gates would remain a director and be involved in product development, focusing less on administration, the people said. He’s weighing going to work at Microsoft at least one day a week, a person briefed on the matter said.

Mining’s Dormant $8 Billion of Private Equity Seen Reviving M&A (Bloomberg)
Some of the biggest names in the industry are keen to buy assets at the same time as the world’s largest producers including Rio Tinto Group are shunning unwanted mines. Former chief executive officers Mick Davis of Xstrata Plc and Barrick Gold Corp.’s Aaron Regent are plotting a return to the business by buying mining projects, backed by private funds. Last week two new mining investment ventures were started, one backed by Warburg Pincus LLC, the other founded by two former JPMorgan Chase & Co. bankers. While buyout firms have targeted mining since 2012, only about 14 percent of the almost $10 billion raised in the last two years has been deployed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries. That could change if they face pressure from their investors to act, Michael Rawlinson, co-head of mining and metals investment banking at Barclays Plc.

Traders Keep an Eye Out for Good Harbor (WSJ)
Something odd happened during U.S. stock trading on Sept. 3: Shares of medium-size companies sank while the rest of the market rose, a finish that occurs about once every 100 sessions. But to some traders, the unusual move wasn't a mystery. They had been watching for Good Harbor Financial LLC, a fast-growing money manager that deals in nearly $11 billion of exchange-traded funds, to reshuffle its main portfolio, as it does regularly on the first trading day of every month. That day, Good Harbor sold a big stake in the iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF. One month later, Good Harbor was buying midcap stocks. That day, midcaps rose faster than other parts of the market in a broad rally. Then on Nov. 1, the Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell as other corners of the market rose. This time around, Good Harbor was unloading small caps and buying large-cap stock ETFs. Across Wall Street, traders take note when big ETF managers like Good Harbor step into the market, moves that can affect prices. At times, they may try to profit by jumping ahead of Good Harbor, potentially chipping away at returns for its investors, people familiar with the market said. On Monday, February's first trading session, traders again will be watching for Good Harbor to make a move. "It's on people's calendars," said one ETF trader at a brokerage firm. "Good Harbor pushes a button, and it moves the whole market."

Rob Ford ticketed by police in British Columbia for jaywalking (The Star)
Global News in Vancouver reported that Ford was crossing a road linking Burnaby and Coquitlam when he was stopped by police. The news station also reported that he had been at a pub in the area earlier, with a flood of photos later being posted on social media of Ford dancing and posing for pictures with revellers. Though people who encountered him suggested he appeared impaired, Ford told the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington that he drank only a Diet Coke while out for the evening. Ford’s spokesperson Amin Massoudi declined to say whether Ford had been drinking or was impaired in any way...Ford told Warmington he is "speechless, "perplexed," and "in shock" — and that he asked the officers if they gave him the $109 ticket, for "disobeying a pedestrian sign," because he is cheering for the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Broncos' opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, enjoy strong support in nearby B.C. "I said you have got to be kidding. I said, are you guys serious?" Ford said. "I said I can't believe this. They went out of their way to do this. I said I support you guys. Did you arrest me because I am a Broncos fan?" "What happened here is not right," he added.



Opening Bell: 4.13.17

Einhorn whines about GM; Asness whines about Research Associates; private equity guy whines about hot women; and more.