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Opening Bell: 7.31.15

Ex-Rabobank trader banned from industry; SAC hires from Bridgewater; Analysts trying to figure out WTF is going on in China; Yahoo's Snapchat; Ukraine; Insider trading; "Burglary Suspect Found Asleep Surrounded By Chicken And Beer"; and more.
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In China Stocks, Late Jolts Are the New Normal (WSJ)
The phenomenon has prompted analysts and traders to try to figure out what has been driving the late-day jolts. For now, they have identified two key factors: afternoon margin calls from lenders, which often prompt a wave of selling, and the looming presence of Chinese authorities. China has vowed to support the market by buying stocks, but investors have figured out that they often won’t move into the market until later in the day.

In Britain, Ex-Rabobank Trader Barred From Industry in Libor Scandal (Dealbook)
British regulators said on Thursday that they had barred a former trader at the Dutch lender Rabobank from the securities industry after he pleaded guilty in the United States in March in connection with rigging a global benchmark interest rate. The Financial Conduct Authority of Britain said the former trader, Lee Stewart, 52, had been barred from working in the British financial services industry for lacking “honesty and integrity.” The ban was put in place on July 21, the regulator said.

Steven Cohen’s Point72 Hires New Head of Data and Analytics (WSJ)
Matthew Granade, 38 years old, will oversee Point72 Asset Management LP’s data sourcing and analysis efforts. He said in an interview that he decided to join the firm after Mr. Cohen and Point72’s president, Douglas Haynes, extolled the firm’s efforts in data and analytics. “Steve explained that this was the way the firm needs to evolve,” he said. “My personal feeling is that this is a very exciting time in this space. Investing now isn’t just about earnings estimates and 10ks. It’s about satellite imagery, sensors and mobile devices. The more you can process those things, the more edge you’ll have.”

Preet Bharara’s Insider-Trading Smackdown Heads to the Supreme Court (Bloomberg)
On Thursday, quietly and four days ahead of the deadline, the solicitor general of the U.S. filed a petition to the Supreme Court asking it to review an appeals court decision that threatens to undermine at least some of Preet Bharara’s legacy on insider-trading prosecutions...The decision to appeal to the Supreme Court is one that Bharara is believed to have wanted from the beginning. He had to persuade the solicitor general, who filed the petition to the high court, to get on board. Although it’s a risky move, which could leave prosecutors with an even worse set of rulings, it will likely bring something that defense lawyers and investors urgently need: clarity about whether they’re breaking the law.

Former Pa. governor: A hot dog is a sandwich (UPI)
Rendell was asked by an interviewer to weigh in on the subject, which has recently become a topic of heated Internet debate, and he came out in favor of giving sandwich status to hot dogs. "It's got bread," Rendell told WPHT-AM. "Would you put a hoagie in the sandwich category? What I would think is the hot dog, the cheese steak, the hoagie, they're in the elite sandwich category...If you eat a hot dog without the bun, it's not a sandwich, obviously. But if you use the bun, I think that it's just a different type of sandwich, but it's still a sandwich. The bread to me would be the key."

Ukraine, Bondholders Move Closer to Deal (WSJ)
After months of relative stalemate, a group of the conflict-torn country’s creditors has indicated it is willing to take a small reduction in the face value of Ukrainian bonds to speed up a debt restructuring process, according to two people close to the negotiations. Ukraine and its creditors have stood at an impasse for months over about $19 billion worth of bonds, which have tanked in value because of concerns the country wouldn’t be able to meet repayments.

Yahoo! set to launch Snapchat-like app with silent spin (NYP)
Yahoo!’s new Livetext is yet another variation on existing services — Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime to name a few — that allow users to send some combination of text and live video through their smartphones. Notice the absence of audio, which distinguishes Livetext from other entrants in the already crowded space. “Audio is the one sensory input that makes everything public,” said Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s SVP of Video, Design and Emerging Products. “It inhibits conversation.”

Fed's 'nearly balanced' language no bar to Sept rate rise (Reuters)
The U.S. Federal Reserve will not need to see balanced risks to the economy to proceed with an interest rate hike in September, according to former Fed officials and a review of central bank statements through recent turns in policy.

Renting Condos Is Fun and Games (WSJ)
Hoping to attract younger professionals trading up to luxury buildings, developers are adding vintage arcade rooms with free, unlimited access to classic games such as “Pac-Man” and “Donkey Kong.” Building managers and renters alike say the classic games provide both nostalgia and entertainment.

Burglary Suspect Found Asleep Surrounded By Chicken And Beer (AP)
A Florida family tells police they came home to chicken bones and empty beer bottles scattered about their kitchen floor and a would-be robber passed out on their couch. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office reports that deputies found 22-year-old Jacob Miller still asleep when they responded Monday to the Lake Worth home in South Florida. After taking Miller into custody, deputies found numerous items of jewelry on the man that belonged to the family. The Palm Beach Post reports that Miller told deputies he went into the home because he needed a place to stay but refused to answer any other questions.

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Opening Bell: 8.23.16

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Opening Bell: 08.29.12

Occupy Sets Wall Street Tie-Up As Protesters Face Burnout (Bloomberg) Occupy Wall Street, the global movement against inequality that ignited in Manhattan last year, will mark its first anniversary by trying to block traffic in the financial district and encircle the New York Stock Exchange. Planning for the Sept. 17 protest, dubbed S17, follows months of internal debate and flagging interest, according to interviews with organizers. The morning action may include attempts to make citizens’ arrests of bankers, and some activists intend to bring handcuffs, they said. “We are here to bring you to justice,” said Sean McKeown, a 32-year-old chemist and New York University graduate who’s helping organize the demonstration. “We’re offering you the chance to repent for your sins.” HSBC Marks Plaza For Eviction Of Hong Kong Occupy Protest (Bloomberg) HSBC is marking out the area in its Hong Kong ground floor plaza that has been occupied by protesters for more than 10 months ahead of their eviction by court-authorized officers. Hong Kong’s High Court has issued a writ of possession empowering a bailiff to re-possess the site, according to an internal HSBC memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Gareth Hewett, a HSBC spokesman, confirmed the content of the memo. “The process by which the bank takes back the plaza has reached a new stage and is now in the hands of the bailiff, whose job is to execute the writ,” according to the memo. The Occupy Central protest in Hong Kong, one of the longest-running demonstrations sparked by the Occupy Wall Street movement, numbered about 50 at the peak. They were ordered by the court to evacuate by 9 p.m. on Aug. 27. Stamford salts aim salvo at hedgie’s hq (NYP) Ray Dalio, founder of $130 billion asset manager Bridgewater Associates, is not making friends in his company’s new hometown of Stamford, Conn. Residents and officials of the coastal city are up in arms after early development of a piece of an 80-acre plot of land — now Bridgewater’s proposed waterfront home — resulted in the surprise demolition of part of a historic 14-acre boat yard. The demolition was specifically prohibited by Stamford officials...“To me, this is the latest outrage by Governor Malloy — giving a water view to a hedge-fund operator and taking away a boat yard that serviced well over 1,000 boats and boaters each year,” said Randy Dinter, a boat owner and member of the group Save Our Boatyard, founded by Maureen Boylan after the boat yard demolition. As Europe's Banks Stall, Companies Look Afar (WSJ) The increased search for alternative sources of funding is yet another indication that Europe's debt crisis is far from over. That could intensify in the fall, when the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund assess whether Greece has done enough to cut its debts. At the same time, some economists expect Spain to seek a rescue package to cut its own debt. Argentines Plan to Shoot Gulls to Save the Whales (NYT) What began as bizarre bird behavior has turned into something out of a horror film for threatened whales in Argentina, where seagulls have learned that pecking at the whales' backs can get them a regular seafood dinner. Seagull attacks on southern right whales have become so common now that authorities are planning to shoot the gulls in hopes of reducing their population...Seagulls around the city of Puerto Madryn discovered about a decade ago that by pecking at the whales as they come up for air, they can create open wounds. Then, each time the whales surface, it's dinner time: Gulls swoop down and dig in, cutting away skin and blubber with their beaks and claws. Marcelo Bertellotti's answer: Shoot the gulls that display this behavior with air rifles and hunting guns, and recover each downed bird before they are eaten along with the ammunition, causing still more damage to marine life. His "100-day Whale-Gull Action Plan" was approved by the government of Chubut, and provincial officials came out Tuesday in defense of it. Ackman: $900M Penney markdown (NYP) Activist investor Bill Ackman has been beating the drums for a sale of mall owner General Growth Properties in recent days, but it’s his stake in JCPenney that’s really causing him grief. The hedge-fund manager confessed to investors that his 18 percent stake in Penney had lowered returns by about $900 million this year. In the latest quarterly investor letter of his $10.5 billion Pershing Square firm, he said Penney “has cost us more than nine percentage points of gross return this year.” The hedge fund lost 6.4 percent in the quarter, after the retailer’s shares slid from their high of $43 in February. Asia's Tide Of Cash Hems Policy Makers (WSJ) Foreign investors are pumping money into several Asian economies, pushing up currencies, stocks and property prices, but threatening to complicate efforts by the region's policy makers to soften an economic slowdown. Investment flows to Southeast Asia and South Korea have swelled in recent months, and overseas money has even crept back into India, as global markets calmed and risky assets became popular again. Analysts expect such markets to get a further boost if central banks in the U.S. and Europe step in with additional measures to bolster their economies. Burglary Suspect Blamed for Thousands of Chicken Deaths (WBOC) Authorities say a Delmar man is facing burglary and related charges following allegations that he got drunk and turned off the power to three poultry houses, which led to the deaths of nearly 70,000 chickens. The Wicomico County Sheriff's Office reports that shortly after 9 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 25, a deputy responded to a reported incident at a poultry farm on the 32000 block of East Line Road in Delmar, Md. The deputy met with the property owner who stated that the electric power had been turned off to his three chicken houses on his property during the night. According to the property owner, this deprived the flock of food, water and cooling fans. As a result, nearly the entire flock was found deceased. Police said that when the property owner entered the control shed that controlled the power, he located an unknown man passed out on the floor of the shed, clad only in a T-shirt and boxer shorts. The man was also lying in a pool of his own urine and had a strong odor of alcohol coming from him, investigators said.

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Opening Bell: 5.8.17

Warren Buffett said some things; Goldman kicks the Volcker can a bit farther; Ukraine deems Steven Seagal a national security threat; and more.

Opening Bell: 02.06.13

RBS Fined $612M by Regulators for Manipulating Libor Rate (Bloomberg) The lender will pay $325 million to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $150 million to the Department of Justice and 87.5 million pounds ($137 million) to the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, the CFTC said in a statement today. RBS said it will recoup about 300 million pounds to pay the fines by cutting bonuses and clawing back previous awards. The bank’s Japanese unit agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud as part of a deal with the Justice Department, the CFTC said. “The public is deprived of an honest benchmark interest rate when a group of traders sits around a desk for years falsely spinning their bank’s Libor submissions, trying to manufacture winning trades,” said David Meister, the CFTC’s director of enforcement. “That’s what happened at RBS.” Nasdaq Faces Facebook Fine (WSJ) Nasdaq is in preliminary talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a potential settlement related to its botched handling of Facebook's much-anticipated offering, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. While a settlement agreement isn't assured, the two sides are discussing a monetary penalty of about $5 million, people involved with the discussions said. In addition, Nasdaq has offered to compensate customers $62 million for losses stemming from Facebook IPO trades. U.S., S&P Settle In for Bitter Combat (WSJ) The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, represents the Justice Department's most aggressive move yet to try to hold accountable companies that were at the center of the financial meltdown. While banks and others have settled with the government and a settlement is possible in the S&P case, both sides indicated Tuesday that they were preparing for a long and costly legal fight. William Black, a former regulator at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, said U.S. officials seem "willing to push this case harder than with any financial-crisis case against a major bank." The government's case relies heavily on emails and other communications that allegedly show S&P officials knew the housing market was collapsing but dragged their feet on downgrading hundreds of securities because executives worried the firm would lose business and anger clients. In March 2007, an analyst sent colleagues song lyrics about the deteriorating market, set to the tune of the Talking Heads 1980s song "Burning Down the House," according to the government's complaint. Minutes later, the analyst sent a follow-up email: "For obvious, professional reasons please do not forward this song. If you are interested, I can sing it in your cube ;-)." Default in 10 Months After AAA Spurred Justice on Credit Ratings (Bloomberg) In May 2007, Standard & Poor’s confirmed its initial AAA ratings on $772 million of a collateralized debt obligation known as Octonion I. Within 10 months, the Citigroup Inc. deal defaulted, costing investors and the bank almost all their money. The CDO, which repackaged mortgage-backed securities and other similar bundles of debt, was among dozens of transactions valued at tens of billions of dollars in 2007 that the ratings firm never should have blessed, the Justice Department said Feb. 4 in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles. Octonion I underscores how inflated grades during the credit boom contributed to more than $2.1 trillion in losses at the world’s financial institutions after home-loan defaults soared and residential prices plummeted. “During this period, nearly every single mortgage-backed CDO that was rated by S&P not only underperformed but failed,” Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday at a news conference. “Put simply, this alleged conduct is egregious, and it goes to the very heart of the recent financial crisis.” Monopoly Fans Vote To Add Cat, Toss Iron (NYP) Scottie dog has a new nemesis in Monopoly after fans voted in an online contest to add a cat token to the property trading game, replacing the iron, toy maker Hasbro Inc. announced Wednesday. The results were announced after the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron were neck and neck for elimination in the final hours of voting that sparked passionate efforts by fans to save their favorite tokens, and by businesses eager to capitalize on publicity surrounding pieces that represent their products. The vote on Facebook closed just before midnight on Tuesday, marking the first time that fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to toss. The pieces identify the players and have changed quite a lot since Parker Brothers bought the game from its original designer in 1935. Fed Says Internal Site Breached by Hackers, No Critical Functions Affected (Reuters) The admission, which raises questions about cyber security at the Fed, follows a claim that hackers linked to the activist group Anonymous had struck the Fed on Sunday, accessing personal information of more than 4,000 U.S. bank executives, which it published on the Web. "The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Fed spokeswoman said. "Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system," the spokeswoman said, adding that all individuals effected by the breach had been contacted. HSBC's Global Spread Left It Open To Crime, Says CEO (Reuters) "Our structure was not fit for purpose for a modern world," Stuart Gulliver told lawmakers on a British banking inquiry on Wednesday. "Our geographic footprint became very attractive to trans-national criminal organizations, whether they are terrorist in origin or criminal in origin." HSBC, whose former slogan "The world's local bank" reflects its presence in more than 80 countries, was in December given a $1.9 billion fine, the largest ever imposed on a bank, following a U.S. investigation into its Mexican and U.S. operations. Florida Keys 'Sea Hag' Gets 30 Years in Prison for Shooting Man Who Refused to Give Her Beer (NBC) The Florida Keys woman known as "the sea hag" who shot and killed her neighbor after he refused to give her a beer has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars. Dukeshire, who was facing a first-degree murder charge and made a deal with prosecutors, submitted a statement to the judge saying she was remorseful and would pay the rest of her life for losing her composure. Police say Dukeshire had approached Mazur outside his Conch Key home and asked him for a can of Busch Light. "Do you have a cold beer for me?" she asked, according to a Monroe County Sheriff's Office report.

WilburRossChina

Opening Bell: 8.3.18

Jobs!; Trade war!; Tesla!; Vagina beer!; and more!