Opening Bell: 1.8.15

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Losing Faith in JPMorgan, Two Churches Claim Self-Dealing (Bloomberg)
Christ Church Cathedral of Indianapolis said JPMorgan breached its duty as trustee by investing the church’s $31 million trust largely in products that generated revenue for the bank, with fees in some cases exceeding 8 percent a year. The bank invested in these and other “toxic” products of its own creation, the church alleged in an August lawsuit, resulting in a “surreptitious transfer of wealth from the Christ Church trusts to JPMorgan.” Such decisions cost the trust $13 million over nine and a half years, the church suit said. Declining assets and income from the trust, founded by pharmaceuticals scion Eli Lilly in the 1970s, forced the church to pare its HIV, hunger and domestic-abuse programs, said the Very Reverend Stephen Carlsen. “Legal action is the last resort,” said Carlsen. “This is not a class they teach in seminary.” The Sandscrest Foundation, which benefits the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, made similar allegations in a suit filed in March. An Illinois library, in a previously unreported letter to the bank, also raised concerns that the bank may have put its own financial interests first.

Pivotal Insider Ruling Is Put to Test (WSJ)
After Gregory Bolan quit as a research analyst for Wells Fargo & Co. in Nashville, Tenn., his former colleague, trader Joseph Ruggieri, gave him a set of keys to Mr. Ruggieri’s Manhattan apartment to help him as he interviewed for jobs in New York. This seemingly innocuous favor was cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission, when it filed civil charges last year against both men alleging insider trading. The agency said the gesture of friendship helped demonstrate that Mr. Bolan benefited from allegedly tipping Mr. Ruggieri about his upcoming market-moving reports on several stocks from April 2010 through March 2011, when they still worked together. Now, the supposed benefit is at the center of a courtroom battle—the latest in a string of legal challenges stemming from a landmark appeals-court ruling in December that raises the bar for prosecutors and the SEC in proving insider trading. The two men intend to file a motion Thursday, seeking the dismissal of all charges against them as a result of the appeals-court ruling, according to Mr. Bolan’s lawyer, Sam Lieberman. The men deny wrongdoing and say the SEC’s case doesn’t meet the new standard set by courts.

Exclusive: Oil glut spurs top traders to book supertankers for storage at sea (Reuters)
Trading firms including Vitol [VITOLV.UL], Trafigura [TRAFGF.UL] and energy major Shell (RDSa.L) have all booked crude tankers for up to 12 months, freight brokers and shipping sources told Reuters. They said the flurry of long-term bookings was unusual and suggested traders could use the vessels to store excess crude at sea until prices rebound, repeating a popular 2009 trading gambit when prices last crashed.

Peter Thiel Wants To Be A Weed Dealer (AP)
Founders Fund, the $2 billion San Francisco venture capital firm run by Silicon Valley stars including Peter Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of Paypal, is investing in Privateer Holdings, a marijuana company that owns several pot-related brands. The companies declined to disclose the size of the investment Thursday, but described it as a “multi-million dollar” participation in a $75 million fundraising effort by Privateer. The deal had been rumored last year.

Police Arrest Couple For Autoerotic Romp (TSG)
A Florida couple was arrested early yesterday after they were spotted having sex atop a 2004 Kia Sedona at a West Palm Beach auto dealership, police report. Officers responding to Mike’s Auto Sales discovered Erin Byrd, 18, and Ramon Mitchell, 29, “inside of a dealership vehicle which did not belong to either subject,” according to a police report. Cops were summoned to the closed business shortly before midnight by a witness who “advised officers he just witnessed both suspects having sex on top of the vehicle in plain sight.” The 39-year-old man added that he heard the trysting duo moaning. Upon exiting the minivan, Byrd and Mitchell were arrested. As the 300-pound Mitchell was being handcuffed, he spit in the face of a female officer, police reported.

Starboard Ramps Up Pressure on Yahoo to Unlock Alibaba Value (Bloomberg)
In the letter, addressed to Mayer from Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith, the investor said it had become “increasingly concerned” by reports that the Web portal is looking to make major acquisitions. He reiterated that Yahoo should unlock value by monetizing assets -- which include stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan Corp. -- trimming costs and exploring a combination with AOL Inc. “Should you instead choose to proceed down a different path by pursuing large acquisitions and/or a cash-rich split, both of which have been speculated, such actions would be a clear indication to us that significant leadership change is required at Yahoo,” Smith wrote in the letter to Mayer, adding that he has met the CEO and is having discussions with her, Yahoo management and some directors.

Jobless Claims Drop as U.S. Employers Keep Holiday Workers (Bloomberg)
Jobless claims decreased by 4,000 to 294,000 in the week ended Jan. 3, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decline to 290,000.

Santander to Raise $8.88 Billion in Capital (WSJ)
Banco Santander SA said it will raise up to €7.5 billion ($8.88 billion) in a capital hike, a bid by its new executive chairman, Ana Botín, to address long-standing concerns among investors and analysts that its financial cushion is thinner than those of other big European banks. Santander said in a regulatory filing Thursday that it would raise the capital through an accelerated book building process, which entails selling the stock overnight to institutional investors. Santander chose Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG to oversee the capital hike, a person close to the bank said.

The $140,000-a-Year Welding Job (WSJ)
Justin Friend ’s parents have doctoral degrees and have worked as university lecturers and researchers. So Mr. Friend might have been expected to head for a university after graduating from high school in Bryan, Texas, five years ago. Instead, he attended Texas State Technical College in Waco, and received a two-year degree in welding. In 2013, his first full year as a welder, his income was about $130,000, more than triple the average annual wages for welders in the U.S. In 2014, Mr. Friend’s income rose to about $140,000.

Soccer teams Arsenal, Hotspurs ban selfie sticks (UPI)
An Arsenal spokesman confirmed the selfie sticks -- camera or cellphone holders designed to allow users to get a wider frame while taking photos of themselves -- have been added to Emirates Stadium's list of items banned because they can be used as weapons. "We can confirm that 'selfie sticks' are banned on match days at Emirates Stadium," the spokesman said. "The club's ground regulations prohibit any object that could be used as a weapon or could compromise public safety." Meanwhile, Twitter user @LiamCSWY posted a copy of an email he received from Tottenham Hotspur "customer care" official "Jake" saying the selfie sticks, which fans were already prohibited from using during game play to avoid blocking views, were being banned from White Hart Lane stadium.

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