Opening Bell: 1.16.15

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Goldman Sachs Posts Lowest Annual Trading Revenue Since 2005 (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), which set a Wall Street record for trading revenue in 2009, posted less than half that amount in 2014 as revenue from the firm’s biggest business fell to the lowest in almost a decade. The decline helped push fourth-quarter net income 7.1 percent lower to $2.17 billion, or $4.38 a share, from $2.33 billion, or $4.60, a year earlier, the New York-based company said Friday in a statement. The average estimate of 23 analysts in a Bloomberg survey was $4.36.

UBS’s Richest Clients Seen Flocking to Dollars After Swiss Franc Shock (Bloomberg)
UBS Group AG (UBSG), the largest Swiss bank, said its wealthiest clients will be attracted to U.S. dollars after Switzerland roiled markets by scrapping the franc’s cap. Private-banking customers are concerned a stronger franc will hurt Switzerland’s economy and the businesses they own, Simon Smiles, Zurich-based chief investment officer for ultra-high-net-worth individuals at UBS, said on Friday in an interview. Clients worldwide have yet to decide on whether to change currency allocations, he said. The bank cut its growth forecast for Switzerland and predicts the country will slip into deflation this year.

Greece’s Eurobank, Alpha Bank Ask Central Bank for Emergency Liquidity Assistance (WSJ)
Two of Greece’s biggest lenders, Eurobank Ergasias and Alpha Bank , have formally requested access to an emergency cash facility run by the country’s central bank, amid concerns that liquidity conditions in Greece’s banking sector were tightening in the run-up to national elections later this month. Banking officials from the two lenders said Friday that the moves were only a precaution and that neither faced an immediate cash crunch. “We have made an application to the central bank,” a senior executive at one of the banks said, “but it is strictly on a precautionary basis.”

British Man Convicted After Having Sex With A Mailbox (HP)
Paul Bennett, 45, pleaded guilty on Thursday to two counts of indecent exposure and using threatening and abusive words with abusive behavior, the Mirror reports. The plea stemmed from a Sept. 9 incident where he attempted to have sex with a mailbox in a public area. Witnesses told the court they saw Bennett pull down his pants in a shopping arcade and start to publicly perform a sexual act on himself in public. Prosecuting attorney Kate Beattie said Bennett then walked over to the postbox and "started to make sexual advances towards it," according to the Mirror. Bennett reportedly rubbed himself against the mailbox while holding his hands in the air. Witnesses said he kept shouting “Wow!” during his mailbox masturbation. After he finished, Bennett pulled up his pants and started swinging on a lamppost, according to the Manchester Evening News.

SEC Pokes Hole in Argument It’s Too Slow to Get Grip on Markets (Bloomberg)
Bit by bit, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is answering critics who say it’s asleep at the switch when it comes to high-frequency trading. The agency announced another record fine Thursday against UBS Group AG (UBSG), saying the bank favored professional market makers when it violated rules designed to ensure stock trades are executed fairly. UBS’s penalty comes just days after Bats Global Markets Inc. was ordered to pay $14 million for disclosure violations at its Direct Edge exchanges, capping one of the busiest weeks yet for SEC investigators charged with rooting out inequities in America’s computer-accelerated stock market. “These cases show that we can handle these complex investigations involving a very complicated industry,” SEC Enforcement Director Andrew Ceresney told reporters yesterday.

IEA Slashes 2015 Forecast Increase in Non-OPEC Oil Supply (WSJ)
The collapse in oil prices is expected to slash growth in non-OPEC oil production this year, bolstering demand for the producer group’s own output, the International Energy Agency said Friday, indicating the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ strategy to defend its market share may be working. The decision taken by the oil cartel in November to abandon its traditional role of stabilizing the market and maintain its output in the face of falling prices has proved divisive even within the group. Oil prices, already under pressure from surging U.S. production and sluggish demand, tanked following the group’s decision and are now down more than 50% since June.

Fed's Bullard takes swipe at central bank's reaction ability (Reuters)
The Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee has failed to shift market expectations on the timing and path of an expected interest rate hike this year, a top Fed official said on Friday. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said the Fed's misreading of labor market strength and overestimation of inflation are among the reasons for the market's disconnect with where the Fed is headed on rates. "Instead, market expectations for the policy rate have moved in the opposite direction, raising questions about the nature of the Committee's reaction function to incoming data," Bullard said in prepared remarks at a CFA Society event here.

Woman Accused Of Trashing Boss's Office With Glitter, Silly String (AP)
An Ohio woman accused of trashing her former supervisor's office with glitter and purple Silly String faces charges that include vandalism. The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that Samantha Lockhart was arrested Thursday. The 25-year-old Akron woman worked as a clerk for the Summit County Fiscal Office until Monday. Akron police say Lockhart used her swipe card to access the supervisor's office on Wednesday afternoon. Once inside, authorities say she smashed personal photos, threw glitter and sprayed Silly String. She also is accused of ruining two desktop computers, a scanner and a printer. Summit County attorney Michael Cassidy told the news group that he wasn't able provide a reason for Lockhart's departure from the office.

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