High-Frequency Probe’s First Target Is Barclays (Bloomberg)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s 10-month investigation into high-speed trading has so far led to one big target: Barclays Plc. Almost a year after New York’s top cop made a splash with subpoenas of six high-frequency trading operations, the names of some of these firms cropped up in documents filed this week in the state court in Manhattan. The firms aren’t defendants, though. They are listed as part of Schneiderman’s proposed updated complaint against Barclays, which ran the private trading venue, or dark pool, where these firms traded. Schneiderman’s suit doesn’t allege any wrongdoing by the high-frequency trading firms. Its focus, instead, is whether Barclays lied to its customers about what HFT firms were doing inside Barclays’s dark pool, one of Wall Street’s largest in-house trading platforms.
$43 hot dogs at Davos (CNBC)
At the posh Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, a conference hotspot, even humble menu items can be astronomically pricey. A hot dog with pickles, fried onions and mustard is priced at 38 Swiss francs (about $43.50). It's 48 Swiss francs for a chicken Caesar salad with parmesan (about $55) and a draft beer at a local restaurant - in a pint-sized glass - can cost 6.50 Swiss francs, about $7.50.
Bordeaux Is Illiquid and Other Wine Investment Hazards (Bloomberg)
More than half a dozen firms peddling wine investments in the U.K. alone went belly up last year. Why have there been so many flops? “Most funds collapse because they have the wrong structure, the wrong strategy and no focus on how to exit,” says Brian Mota, co-manager of The Wine Trust, a U.S. fund founded in 2010 with $15 million to $20 million in assets. Mota is convinced The Wine Trust’s private-equity-fund-type setup, in which investors’ money is locked in for eight years, is the most appropriate for wine, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its February issue. “It’s an illiquid investment,” Mota says, chuckling at the irony of his statement. “You can only maximize returns if you can sell at the right moment.”
The Super Bowl Wings Will Be Fat, Yes, But Pricey Too (Bloomberg)
First the fat part. American farmers are giving their chickens extra feed, taking advantage of plunging corn and soybean costs to help lift poultry production -- as measured by weight -- to a record. But each chicken, of course, still only has two wings, regardless of its size. And the number of actual chickens slaughtered last year fell, causing a drop of about 50 million wings, government data show. That smaller supply is what’s triggering the pricey part of the equation. The cost of wholesale wings sold by processors in Georgia, which sets the benchmark for the nation, has surged 8.2 percent this month to $1.715 a pound, the biggest jump to start a year since 2012. Americans will consume 1.25 billion wings when game day arrives Feb. 1. That estimate, provided by the National Chicken Council, is unchanged from last year’s Super Bowl.
German judge: Man can't be fined for peeing standing up (UPI)
A German judge ruled a tenant can't be held responsible for floor damage resulting from urinating while in the standing position. Dusseldorf Judge Stefan Hank sided with the tenant, whose lawsuit said the landlord refused to return $2,100 of his $3,300 deposit, alleging the resident's urine had damaged the marble floor around the toilet. Hank said the arguments from the landlord and a "technical expert" who confirmed urine was responsible for the marble tile damage were "credible and understandable," but not enough to sway his opinion. "Despite the increasing domestication of men in this regard, urinating while standing up is still widespread," the judge wrote in his ruling. Hank said the landlord should have warned the tenant of the floor's "sensitivity" to urine droplets.
BNY Mellon, State Street get profit boost from forex trading (Reuters)
Foreign exchange revenue at New York-based BNY Mellon, the No. 1 custody bank, surged 31 percent to $165 million from year-ago levels as currency markets underwent more volatility. The bank's total fourth-quarter revenue of $3.69 billion was 2 percent higher than the year-ago period. BNY Mellon Chief Executive Officer Gerald Hassell, who has been under pressure from shareholders and analysts to rein in costs, also said the bank cut staff expenses by 7 percent compared with the year-earlier period. BNY Mellon reported adjusted earnings of $667 million, or 58 cents a share, compared with $629 million, or 54 cents a share. At Boston-based State Street Corp, BNY's largest rival, adjusted net income available to shareholders was $582 million, or $1.37 cents a share. That compared with $514 million, or $1.15 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2013. State Street said fourth-quarter revenue from foreign exchange trading was $168 million, up 34 percent from the year-ago period. Total operating revenue was $2.72 billion, compared with $2.53 billion in the year-ago period.
The Chilly Fallout Between Putin and His Old Oligarch Pals (Bloomberg)
The ruble’s plunge has heightened opposition to Putin’s backing of the rebellion in Ukraine among his wealthiest allies, prompting the president to shrink his inner circle from dozens of confidants to a small group of security officials united by their support for the separatists, two longtime associates said. Putin is increasingly suspicious of men who owe their wealth to their ties to him and who are being hurt the most by U.S. and European sanctions, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal.
Brazil’s 2015 Economic Growth Will Be ‘Almost Flat,’ Says Finance Minister (WSJ)
Brazil’s economic growth will be “almost flat” in 2015 amid a series of tax increases and spending cuts at home, as well as slower global growth, Finance Minister Joaquim Levy said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “We have to deal with short-term issues on investment,” Mr. Levy said. “There are lots of things to be done in Brazil.” A survey of economists by the country’s central bank this month forecast that Brazil’s GDP will grow by only 0.5% this year, following an estimated 0.15% expansion in 2014.
Billionaire tells Americans to live more modestly (NYP)
After flying to Davos in a private jet with his wife, kids and two nannies, billionaire Jeff Greene, who amassed a fortune betting against subprime mortgage securities, is lecturing the rest of us to live more modestly. “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,” Coral Gables founder Greene told Bloomberg News at the World Economic Forum, adding, “We need to reinvent our whole system of life.”
Flight attendant gives graphic testimony in Air Canada mile-high sex trial (NEWS AU)
The flight attendant went to investigate and found Mr Chase and Ms Lander in their seats with a coat draped across their laps, the court heard. Ms Lander’s pink G-string was visible between her exposed thighs and Mr Chase’s hand was making an up and down gesture, Mr Dunn said. “Her pants were down around her ankles,” he told the court, Canadian Press reported. “I said, ‘I want you to stop this now. It’s inappropriate.’” Mr Dunn ordered Ms Lander to get dressed and “put her breasts back inside her bra,” before separating the couple for the rest of the flight. When the captain found out about the lovers’ shenanigans, he had the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) meet the plane after landing. The court heard that when officers tried to escort Ms Lander through the airport to an interview room, she became violent. RCMP Constable James Curran said she knocked down a sliding door, hit a police officer and punched holes into walls. She also reeked of alcohol. “At one point she lunged at me as if to bite me,” another RCMP officer, Constable Mac Routliffe, told the court.