Opening Bell: 3.11.16

Hedge Fund billionaire Louis Bacon says clothing Mogul Peter Nygard plotted murder over beach house; Calls grow for Fed to hike rates in March; “All I thought about, from when the bandages first came off, was witnessing the expression on a woman’s face when she sees [it]"; and more.
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Hedge Fund Billionaire Louis Bacon Says Clothing Mogul Peter Nygard Plotted Murder Over Beach House (Forbes)
Yesterday, Moore Capital boss Louis Bacon—along with four other plaintiffs–filed a suit in Freeport, the Bahamas against Nygard and his attorney Keod Smith. The suit—which reads like a pulp crime novel—alleges that Nygard, a Canadian who lords over a low-cost clothing empire, has orchestrated a campaign of terror and physical violence against Bacon and allies Frederick Roy Smith, Joseph Darville, Romauld Ferreira and C.B. Moss. Among the claims—physical attacks, firebombing cars, home and office break-ins, vandalism, and paying people to throw anti-Bacon rallies that claimed he was a racist, a murderer, and stock crook. The most severe claim: that Nygard held talks with two men—Livingston “Bobo” Bullard and Wisler “Toggi” Davilma–about killing Bacon and co-plaintiff Frederick Smith.

Calls grow for Fed to hike rates in March (CNBC)
There's virtually no chance of that happening — literally zero, according to the CME's FedTracker tool. The Fed, at its meeting next week, instead is likely to explain in its closely followed code that it won't be hiking its rate target as it believes current financial conditions warrant a pause.

Economists mixed on ECB stimulus (CNBC)
As markets struggled to digest a fresh round of stimulus from the European Central Bank, economists also clashed in their assessments of the central bank's new policy measures. "After all the hoopla about doing more and not standing on the sidelines, the ECB seems only to have barely stepped onto the playing field," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics. "There is no MVP performance here." Others argued that the ECB's combined measures exceeded expectations, especially after leaving investors disappointed in December.

Canada Becomes a U.S. Creditor for First Time (Bloomberg)
Canada is now a creditor to the U.S. for the first time on record, government data show, reflecting the northern nation’s love affair with assets south of the border. The stock of U.S. assets held by Canadians in the fourth quarter of 2015 -- everything from corporate acquisitions to portfolio investments -- exceeded assets held by Americans in Canada for the first time since at least 1990, according to quarterly data published Thursday by Statistics Canada.

Two inches changed my life (NYP)
Then a year or so later — still smarting from the breakup — Jason was listlessly Googling “penile enhancement” and reading through reams of scam offers when he came across California-based urologist Dr. James Elist, who promotes such seemingly impossible dreams on his website. A jolly man of 66, Elist believed he could substantially increase Jason’s 3-inch member. “I had a single question,” Jason recalls. “ ‘When do I start?’” [...] The procedure’s then-$11,000 price tag (it has since risen to $13,000) seemed like a small sum to pay for Jason, a car salesman. “There was a little bit of swelling, but a day after the one-hour procedure, when they removed the bandages, I looked down and had an out-of-body experience,” Jason says. “I was speechless. It was as large soft as it had previously been hard. It just hung down. All I could think about was what my ex would have said.”

Commodities rally unsustainable: Goldman's Currie (CNBC)
Currie said in a "Closing Bell" interview that market views have driven a premature surge in commodity prices that is unsustainable. "I think there were three forces at play ... reflation, realignment and relevering," he said.

Wall Street's Frustrated Chinese Bankers Are Heading Back Home (Bloomberg)
As U.S. firms have cut bonuses and positions, and China’s sector explodes in sophistication and pay, some are migrating back. And while this may seem like an odd moment to repatriate, given the mounting financial jitters back home, two forces are driving the move: the fact that many feel they’re hitting a bamboo ceiling in the U.S. and the belief that Chinese growth, while slowing, is shifting into areas that will benefit bankers.

California Endowment to Yank Money From Worst-Performing Funds (Bloomberg)
The University of California’s endowment, which manages $2 billion in hedge fund investments, plans to pull money from the worst-performing managers and redirect assets to top firms, the state system’s investing chief said. The number of hedge fund managers will be cut to about 10 from 32 as soon as June, the latest move in a revamp of the university’s $95.7 billion in pension and endowment assets that began two years ago under Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher.

Elderly Brazilian fisherman and his penguin pal reunite on a beach every year after he saved the bird's life (NYDN)
Every year, a Patagonian penguin travels 5,000 miles for a heartfelt reunion with the Brazilian fisherman who saved its life. The kindhearted 71-year-old fisherman, Joao Pereira de Souza, first met the Magellanic penguin in 2011 when it washed up on a bed of rocks, starving and covered in oil. De Souza spent a week nursing the endangered bird back to health, giving him the name Dindim. The penguin wouldn’t leave the fisherman’s side when he attempted to release him back to the waters, instead living with him for 11 months. Once the penguin grew its feathers back, it disappeared, only to return a few months later. “Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.”

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Opening Bell: 6.6.16

Saudi central bank bans use of options against riyal; June rate hike "almost surely off the table"; Murder victim’s parents say parrot witnessed crime; and more.

Opening Bell: 08.02.12

Knight Says Glitch Cost It $440 Million (WSJ) Knight, in a press statement Thursday, said the problematic software had been removed from its systems and that the firm would conduct business making markets and trading on behalf of its clients Thursday. Knight's broker-dealer subsidiaries are in compliance with requirements to hold capital, the company said. The estimated $440 million loss disclosed Thursday by Knight follows a $35.4 million hit taken by the company in the problematic stock-market debut of Facebook. Goldman Leads Foreign Banks Accelerating Job Cuts In Japan (Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs led foreign banks in accelerating job cuts at their Japanese brokerages last fiscal year as employees relocated to other Asian financial centers and firms trimmed costs amid a global industry slump. The number of staff at nine global securities firms in Japan fell by 537, or 7.3 percent, to a combined 6,796 as of March 31, more than double the previous year’s 3.2 percent reduction, according to company regulatory filings. Wall Street and European banks have been eliminating jobs and transferring staff from Japan to Hong Kong and Singapore to reduce expenses as the euro region’s debt woes dent global investor confidence. The worst may be over as Japan recovers from last year’s nuclear crisis and some U.S. firms start hiring junior bankers for mergers advice and asset management, said Katsunobu Komizo, a Tokyo-based recruiting consultant. BNP Paribas Second Quarter Net Falls, Hits Capital Goal Early (Reuters) Second-quarter net income fell to 1.85 billion euros ($2.27 billion), beating the average of analyst estimates of 1.74 billion in a Reuters poll. Revenue dropped 8 percent to 10.10 billion, broadly in line with the poll average of 10.13 billion. The bank hit an 8.9 percent core Tier 1 ratio under stricter new Basel III methodology due to come into force from 2013. It is six months ahead of its target to hit 9 percent by end-2013. AIG Pushing Plan For Independence (WSJ) Several analysts who follow the company say the government's stake could be cut below 30% before the November elections, if asset sales expected by AIG in the coming months help the company raise a total of $10 billion to $15 billion in excess capital. The buybacks are likely to accompany one or more public share offerings of AIG stock by the Treasury, which over the past 16 months has reduced its stake from a peak of 92% through a series of at-market sales. Boulder police: Longmont man urinated on woman at bar after she rejected his advances (CD) Boulder police arrested a Longmont man who witnesses said urinated on a woman at a local bar after she rejected his advances Saturday night, according to a report. The woman told police she was standing next to the bar at Shooters Grill and Bar, 1801 13th St., about 11:45 p.m. Saturday when a man -- later identified as Timothy Paez, 22 -- came up behind her and put his arm around her. The woman turned around and said, "Um, really?," and Paez took his arm off her, according to the report. According to police, a few seconds later, the woman said she felt some sort of liquid hitting her leg. She initially thought Paez was spilling his beer on her, but when she turned around she told police she saw Paez with his penis exposed urinating on her leg and the front of the bar. Berkshire Benefits As Buffett Wagers On U.S. Housing (Bloomberg) “I don’t know if he’s lucky, smart or patriotic, but it’s worked out for him,” Cliff Gallant, an analyst at KBW Inc., said in a phone interview. He estimates that Berkshire will post an operating profit of $1,750 a share for the second quarter, a 6.7 percent increase from a year earlier. Bacon To Return $2 Billion (NYP) Louis Moore Bacon plans to give back $2 billion, or 25 percent of his main hedge fund, to investors, saying it may be too big for him to achieve past returns as “liquidity and opportunities have become more constrained.” Bacon, who seeks to exploit macroeconomic trends such as changes in interest rates and currencies, returned a “disappointing” 0.35 percent in the first half and a “tolerable” 6 percent in the past year, according to a letter sent yesterday to clients. He has gained on average more than 18 percent a year since starting the Moore Global Investments fund in 1989. Jobless Claims Increase (WSJ) Initial jobless claims, an indication of layoffs, increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000 in the week ended July 28, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast 370,000 new applications for jobless benefits last week. Your 119 Billion Google Searches Now A Central Bank Tool (Bloomberg) Margo Sugarman spent months last year searching on Google for the appliances to complete her dream kitchen, scouring the Internet for information on the latest double ovens and low-noise mixers. Not only did those queries guide the Tel Mond, Israel, resident to the best deals for her 70,000-shekel ($17,680) renovation, they also helped the Bank of Israel, which looks to searches like Sugarman’s to assess the state of the nation’s $243 billion economy. The central bank stands at the forefront of the world’s hunt for new economic indicators, analyzing keyword counts for everything from aerobics classes to refrigerators -- reported by Google almost as soon as the queries take place -- to gauge consumer demand before official statistics are released. The Federal Reserve and the central banks of England, Italy, Spain and Chile have followed up with their own studies to see if search volumes track trends in the economies they oversee. For Retiring GE Executive, $89,000/Month Not to Work (WSJ) John Krenicki is giving up his General Electric paycheck. But he's going to be collecting an allowance. As part of a deal to keep the veteran executive from joining a competitor for an usually long three years, the conglomerate has agreed to pay Mr. Krenicki $89,000 a month until 2022. The payment to Mr. Krenicki, who is 50 years old, was dubbed a retirement allowance by GE and is worth $1 million a year.

Opening Bell: 05.16.12

Greece Teeters As Talks Fail (WSJ) In a potent sign of Greeks' rising anxiety, depositors withdrew €700 million ($898 million) from local banks on Monday alone, according to the country's national bank—a significant escalation in capital flight from the country. Greek President Karolos Papoulias told party leaders that the situation facing Greece's lenders was very difficult and that "the strength of banks is very weak right now," according to a transcript released Tuesday. Merkel: I Want Greece To Stay In The Euro (CNBC) In an interview with CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange," Merkel said: "I want, just like Jean-Claude Juncker, that Greece stays in the euro. I think that would be good for Greece and for all of us. If Greece believes that we can find more stimulus in Europe in addition to the Memorandum (the deal stuck with the Troika), then we have to talk about that," she said, but she underlined that Greece and its euro zone partners had to be able to trust each other. What Happens When Greece's Money Runs Out (Reuters) "I'm really not sure Greece could survive for very long if external money was cut off," said Darren Williams, economist at fund manager AllianceBernstein. "But what an experience of IOUs may do rather quickly is bring home to the average Greek citizen just how much more difficult a place it is outside the bailout program and outside the euro." Moore Leads Hedge Funds Betting on JPMorgan Before Losses (Bloomberg) Hedge funds Moore Capital Management LLC and Blue Ridge Capital LLC boosted their stakes in JPMorgan Chase, while Kingdon Capital Management LLC divested, before the shares plunged because of a $2 billion trading loss. Moore, the $15 billion New York-based firm run by Louis Moore Bacon, bought 6 million shares of JPMorgan and its $297.3 million stake was its largest U.S. stock holding as of March 31, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. John Griffin’s New York-based Blue Ridge purchased 1.85 million shares, raising its stake in the bank to 6.14 million. The man who beached ‘Moby Iksil’ (NYP) Boaz Weinstein, a renowned CDS index arbitrageur who launched Saba in 2009, in early February recommended the index, which tracks a basket of US corporate bonds. “They are very attractive” and can be bought at a “very good discount,” said Weinstein, a former Deutsche Bank proprietary trader, speaking at the Harbor Investment Conference on Feb. 2. It appears the index was so cheap because Iksil was buying it to make a big short bet. Weinstein, whose Saba overseas $5.5 billion in assets, decided to go long and said he bought the index a few days before the conference at around 120 basis points. For a while, Weinstein’s genius trade wasn’t working out. The IG9 Index continued to sink under the weight of the Whale’s buys — hitting a low of 105 on March 21. But two weeks later, on April 3, reports surfaced about the Whale’s outsize positions and the tide started to turn. The price spiked to 130 as traders piled on. What JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon first termed a “tempest in a teapot” started to get serious. By last week, Dimon announced a $2.3 billion loss on the Whale’s trade, and word spread that Iksil’s head may roll. Meanwhile, Weinstein, who earned roughly $100 million last year, saw his position and the index continue to soar. The CDS index traded around 146 yesterday. Facebook Said to Raise Size of IPO to 421 Million Shares (Bloomberg) Facebook is boosting the number of shares for sale in its initial public offering to 421.2 million, allowing the world’s most popular social network to raise as much as $16 billion. Existing holders will offer 241.2 million shares, compared with the 157.4 million they originally planned to sell, according to a regulatory filing today. Menlo Park, California- based Facebook and its existing holders had earlier planned to offer 337.4 million shares. Soros’s Firm Buys JPMorgan, Suntrust in First Quarter (Bloomberg) The $25 billion Soros Fund Management LLC, based in New York, increased the value of its stake in financials by 7 percent, including 606,000 shares of JPMorgan worth $28 million as of March 31, and 3.2 million shares of Atlanta-based Suntrust valued at $77 million, according to a filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Paulson Holds to Gold ETFs in First Quarter, Profits as Prices Rise (Reuters) So that's nice. Housing Starts Probably Rebounded From a Five-Month Low (Bloomberg) “Homebuilding is inching up pretty much everywhere in the U.S.,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “The days when housing was a drag on the economy are behind us.” Even so, “housing activity is at depressed levels,” with foreclosures “still a problem for builders,” he said. Bloomberg Reporter Makes Wardrobe Adjustment On Camera (DM, NYO) A microphone mishap led one television reporter from revealing a bit more than she expected. When it became clear that one reporter's mic was not working, the cameraman swapped over quickly to Sara Eisen. Clearly thinking she was off-camera, the Bloomberg News reporter was adjusting her skirt and smoothing out her undergarments. Because the camera swapped over to her sooner than expected, the financial-savvy viewers caught a glimpse of Ms Eisen's underwear...In spite of the hiccup, Ms Eisen was able to brush her skirt down and get back to business. She flashed a quick, knowing smile and then moved right into the news about Spain's banking system debate.