Opening Bell: 04.22.14

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Williams Urges Fed to Avoid Stoking Risk as It Boosts Jobs (Bloomberg)
“We’re exactly on the right track” with current policy, Williams said in an interview yesterday in San Francisco, predicting unemployment will fall to 5.5 percent by the end of next year and inflation will accelerate to about 1.7 percent. Trying to achieve the Fed’s goals sooner “would take policy actions that might have more negative effects,” he said.

Dawn raid makes comeback via activist drone strike (Reuters)
Remember the dawn raid, when a would-be acquirer built up a stake before the target realized it was under attack? Activist investor Bill Ackman has come up with a kind of drone strike version. His Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund and Valeant Pharmaceuticals have teamed up to grab a potential 9.7 percent stake in Allergan, with a hostile takeover by Valeant ready for deployment. The acquisitive Valeant has reasons to be receptive to such an arrangement. For one thing, it’s essentially the creation of an activist hedge fund, ValueAct Capital, which set it on the path of serial dealmaking. Slashing research and development costs and applying its low tax rate to acquired businesses has served investors well. Its stock is up more than tenfold since it started buying rivals in 2008. The prospect of another deal kicked its shares 10 percent higher after regular market hours on Monday, taking its market capitalization up to $46 billion.

HK regulator reprimands, fines RBS over emerging-markets rates trades (Reuters)
Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said on Tuesday it reprimanded Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) for internal control failures, fining the bank HK$6 million ($773,800). The SFC said in a statement RBS failed to detect and prevent unauthorized trades in its emerging markets rates business in the city in 2011, following the discovery of unauthorized trades by former trader Shirlina Tsang. Tsang was sentenced last year to 50 months in jail after pleading guilty to fraud after was she caught falsifying records of her trades, Reuters previously reported.

Worker sends 1,000 ducklings to boss’s home in wages dispute (Metro)
Builder Chiu Xiang arranged for the 1,130 live ducklings to be dropped in the home of his employer, Hung Bin, in a dispute over wages. The 60-year-old, who worked for Bin for three years, said he was owed £300 in unpaid wages after quitting his job in China’s Sichuan province last year, according to the Shanghaiist. ‘It was all he deserved,’ he said. ‘I hope the ducks drove him quackers.’ Xiang organised for a contact who runs a poultry business to drop the ducks off, telling him they would be paid for on delivery. Police were called to the scene after Bin refused to pay for the duck delivery. ‘It was drastic but necessary,’ said Xiang, who has been promised a negotiated settlement with the local labour authorities.

BNY Mellon Posts First-Quarter Profit on Higher Assets (Bloomberg)
Net income rose to $661 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with a loss of $266 million, or 23 cents a share, in the same period last year that was caused by a tax court decision, the New York-based bank said today in a statement. Analysts had expected a profit of 53 cents a share.

Ex-Deutsche Bank Trader Bets UBS Call Is Wrong: Argentina Credit (Bloomberg)
UBS AG (UBSN) and Jefferies Group LLC predict Argentina’s world-beating bond gains will fizzle. Former Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) trader Luis Caputo is looking to bet as much as $300 million they’re wrong. Caputo, 49, said he raised $30 million in the first week running Noctua International LLC’s Argentina fund and plans to reach the $300 million goal in three to six months as he seeks to capitalize on soaring demand for Argentine assets. The country’s bonds have returned 21 percent since August, more than any other nation tracked by Bloomberg indexes, when President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner failed to win enough votes in a primary to seek a third term in next year’s election.

U.S. Existing-Home Sales Fall Slightly (WSJ)
Existing-home sales fell 0.2% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected sales to fall a steeper 0.7% to an annual rate of 4.57 million.

Expectant Parents Asked The Internet To Name Their Child (HPUK)
New dad Stephen McLaughlin set up namemydaughter.com and asked all 2.89 million Redditors to name his newborn. The result was exactly what you would expect when you ask the Internet to name your unborn child. Reddit, the wonderful wild creature that it is, refused to be tamed when it came to name creativity, with suggestions including: Megatron Salad, Streetlamp of-the-sea, Yana Don’t-Blink and Chalupa Batman. The number one baby name choice, out of 150,000 votes in all, was “Cthulhu” – the tentacle-faced monster of South Park and science-fiction fame. The full winning name was Cthulu All-Spark — with Cthulu being the first name, All-Spark being her middle name, obviously. But the name was vetoed by the parents for a much prettier Amelia Savannah Joy McLaughlin. Amelia's mother, Kathryn, gave a nod to the Internet's favourite, though, writing in a Facebook post: "All bow down to the great and powerful Cthulhu."

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Opening Bell: 06.05.12

Germany Pushes EU Bank Oversight (WSJ) Though Berlin has resisted a banking union, Ms. Merkel's initiative shows Germany is willing to talk about an overhaul and is trying to focus the debate on Europe's biggest banks. "We will discuss to what extent we need to put systemically relevant banks under a specific European supervisory authority so that national interests do not play such a large role," Ms. Merkel told reporters ahead of a meeting in Berlin with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, referring to the June 28-29 summit. Citi Bets That Proof Leads To Profits (WSJ) Seeking a shot in the arm for the ailing banking business, Citigroup Inc. C -2.30% is expanding into a little-known but fast-growing field known as identity proofing—the tedious and time-consuming task of proving people are who they say they are. The third-biggest U.S. bank by assets later this month will begin issuing digital-identity badges to the employees of Defense Department contractors, ranging from makers of high-tech engineering parts to the janitors who clean the bathrooms. Citigroup is the only financial institution that has clearance to sell the identity cards and grab a piece of a market whose annual sales could reach into the billions of dollars. But the badge business is just the beginning. Citigroup's hope is that the contractors will eventually use the plastic on which the badges are issued for more than just identity verification. If companies adopt the technology, their employees will be able to collect paychecks and pay business expenses using the cards—enabling Citigroup to collect fees on all of those transactions. John Paulson Buys Saudi Prince’s $49 Million Aspen Palace (CNBC) The lavish ranch, sold by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was once the most expensive estate ever listed in the U.S., with a price tag in 2006 of $135 million. The property includes a main house with 15-bedrooms, 16-baths, and 56,000-square-feet. It also includes several side buildings, as well as a water treatment plant, gas pumps and other high-tech features. Mr. Paulson’s $49 million purchase included two properties — the 90-acre main property as well as a 38-acre property nearby called Bear Ranch. Bear Ranch and Hala Ranch together might have once fetched more than $150 million in 2006 or 2007, according to Aspen real-estate experts. Blankfein: Nyet to Petersburg leaks (NYP) Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein yesterday squarely disputed his former director Rajat Gupta’s claim that Gupta was permitted to speak about details of a 2008 board meeting with his alleged co-conspirator, hedge-fund titan Raj Rajaratnam. “Did you authorize Mr. Gupta to reveal any of the confidential information discussed at the board meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia?” prosecutor Reed Brodsky asked the CEO. “No,” Blankfein said. The details included directors discussing the possibility of Goldman buying a commercial bank or insurance company, including AIG, in the early days of the mortgage crisis. MF Global Trustee Sees $3 Billion in Potential Claims (Reuters) MF Global Holdings could have more than $3 billion in claims against its former affiliates, Louis Freeh, the trustee overseeing the wind-down of the parent company of the collapsed broker-dealer, said in his first status report. The potential recoveries for the parent company's creditors will come primarily from such claims, Freeh said in his 119-page report that was submitted to the bankruptcy court. Former bath-salts addict: 'It felt so evil' (CNN) The man is strapped onto a gurney and restrained, yet he is singing, making faces and twitching. "You know where you're at?" a paramedic asks him, but Freddy Sharp can't answer. He was, he explained later, off in his own world after overdosing on the synthetic drug known as "bath salts." "I'd never experienced anything like that," Sharp told CNN's Don Lemon. "It really actually scared me pretty bad." He said he was hallucinating about being in a mental hospital and being possessed by Jason Voorhees, the character from the "Friday the 13th" movies. "I just felt all kinds of crazy," said Sharp, now 27, of Tennessee, who says he hasn't used bath salts in months. "It felt so evil. It felt like the darkest, evilest thing imaginable." The drug made national headlines recently after a horrific crime in Miami, where a naked man chewed the face off a homeless man in what has been called a zombie-like attack. Australia Central Bank Cuts Rates to Fight Global Gloom (Reuters) Australia's central bank cut interest rates for a second month running on Tuesday in a bid to shore up confidence at home, just as finance chiefs of advanced economies around the world prepare to hold emergency talks on the euro zone debt crisis. Citing a weaker outlook abroad and only modest domestic growth, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.5 percent. Burbank Bets On Global Recession With Subprime Conviction (Bloomberg) In the dozen years that John Burbank has run his $3.4 billion Passport Capital hedge fund, he’s never been as negative on global stocks as he is now. Burbank, 48, expects that the U.S. and much of the rest of the world will slide into a recession, and he’s setting up for that event with a big wager that global stocks will fall. Most of his peers are still betting that stocks, especially those in the U.S., are more likely to rise than decline. “You have a great contrarian outcome here that will be obvious in hindsight, just like subprime was,” Burbank said in an interview last month. “I have a lot of conviction about something that others don’t seem to see clearly.” In Facebook, Options Traders Shift to Post-Earnings Bets (WSJ) While June and July bets have been most active since Facebook options began trading last Tuesday—accounting for more than half of the total options outstanding—contracts expiring in August and September have been picking up steam. Downside options that expire after the company's first public earnings report—expected at the end of July, though no date has been set—were the most actively traded Monday. The most popular positions included bets Facebook would fall below $25 a share over the next two to three months. Real life Garfield eats his way to 40-pound frame (NYDN) A tubby tabby named Garfield was dropped off at the North Shore Animal League last week tipping the scales at nearly 40 pounds, and now the no-kill shelter is hoping to turn him into the biggest loser. “He needs to lose at least 20 pounds,” shelter spokeswoman Devera Lynn said. “He’s so big, he’s like a dog. He actually has his own room.” Garfield meanders slowly in smaller spaces. He’s being moved to a foster home Tuesday in hopes that a next of kin claims the orange-and-white kitty. But if that doesn’t happen, the North Shore Animal League has received several applications from folks willing to give him a permanent home. Lynn said they’ll work with an owner to put the cat on a healthier track. “He’s actually outgoing for a cat,” Lynn said. “Once he loses that weight, he’s going to be a rock star.”

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Opening Bell: 11.29.16

David Einhorn's nemesis makes Trump comeback; Venezuelans mine bitcoin with free electricity; duck costume saves baby goat; and more.