Opening Bell: 4.18.16

Morgan Stanley beats estimates; Osborne says UK economy faces permanent hit with Brexit; Owl's ring delivery goes spectacularly wrong at Canadian wedding; and more.
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Morgan Stanley Quarterly Profit Beats Estimates on Cost Cuts (Bloomberg)
Morgan Stanley joined the parade of Wall Street banks that beat profit estimates by cutting costs to counter a drop in revenue from fixed-income and equities trading. First-quarter net income fell 53 percent to $1.13 billion, or 55 cents a share, from $2.39 billion, or $1.18, a year earlier, the New York-based company said Monday in a statement. Profit surpassed the 47-cent average estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The decline in trading revenue was smaller than some analysts predicted.

Moody’s Emerges as Another Thorn in Oil Patch (WSJ)
The bond rater has deprived 19 energy companies of their investment-grade ratings this year, dropping many several notches into the deeper reaches of high-yield, or junk, territory. The sweep through the sector by Moody’s Investors Service, a unit of Moody’s Corp., reflects the firm’s forecast that commodity prices will rebound little in coming years as well as its new emphasis on financial metrics such as free cash flow over other factors such as scale and asset quality. Moody’s says the commodity-price plunge has necessitated the shift.

UK economy faces permanent hit with Brexit: Osborne (Reuters)
British finance minister George Osborne said a vote to leave the European Union in a referendum in June would do permanent damage to the country's economy, which he warned would be 6 percent smaller by 2030 than if it stayed in the bloc. The government is due to present on Monday a "serious, sober analysis" of the long-term economic impact of a so-called Brexit, a source familiar with the document said. Osborne was quoted as saying the loss to the economy would be the equivalent to each household of 4,300 pounds ($6,100) a year by 2030.

Draghi Seen Putting ECB Stimulus Back on Agenda After Summer (Bloomberg)
Without a radical change to economic policy in the 19-nation currency bloc, Europe's feeble recovery risks remaining insufficient to deliver inflation in line with the ECB's definition of price stability — a rate below but close to two percent. That's what's driving expectations Draghi will have to act again, even after he last month cut interest rates to record lows, expanded quantitative easing by a third and announced free long-term loans for banks.

New Zealand hotel bans Lycra cycling shorts due to 'unsightly bulges' (UPI)
A hotel in New Zealand implemented a new dress code that prohibits customers from wearing Lycra bicycle shorts. Mike Saunders, owner of the Plough Hotel in Rangiora, North Canterbury, told Stuff that the hotel expected more bikers after making the decision to open for breakfast and wanted to set a certain standard of dress. "It's just a little unsuitable, we don't always want to see any unsightly bumps and bulges," Saunders said. "We get a nice group of customers out here, some elderly folk...when you're trying to concentrate on your breakfast you just want to see the sausages on your plate."

China Calms Some Anxiety With Economic Reforms (WSJ)
The world’s financial leaders started the year worried about China’s decelerating economy dragging the world into another major crisis. Now, they are breathing a small sigh of relief. Finance ministers, central bankers and other top officials gathering here in recent days said Beijing’s moves to stabilize its economy have temporarily eased global fears tied to the world’s No. 2 economy. “There was not the same level of anxiety,” said International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

Putin Swears Off Stimulus (Bloomberg)
Two days after Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina urged reforms and warned against the “big illusion” of using inflation to propel growth, Putin said last week that he won’t turn on the taps to pump the economy with cash even as a recession drags on. The president is channeling his central banker in what’s now standard fare for Russia after the worst oil crash in a generation jolted the world’s biggest energy exporter.

Greece considers proposal to unblock bailout review talks (Reuters)
Greece is considering adopting measures proposed by EU institutions now and agreeing to implement additional reforms if it misses its 2018 bailout targets, in an effort to unlock new bailout loans, a government official said on Sunday.

Owl's ring delivery goes spectacularly wrong at Canadian wedding (UPI)
A trained owl that was supposed to deliver the rings at a Canadian wedding instead took an ill-fated flight for freedom that ended with a crash. The video, posted to YouTube by ViralHog, shows an owl named Max take off from its trainer's arm when it is summoned to perform its duties by a man saying, "Max, come here!" Max appears initially to head toward the couple, but makes a turn and flies toward the back of the church. The owl seems to be making a break for freedom, or at least some fresh air, but he ends up with neither when he crashes into the glass window and falls to the ground. The video's caption says the owl was hired to deliver the rings because the bride was "a big fan of owls."

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Opening Bell: 7.19.17

Morgan Stanley beats estimates, Goldman; stocks are weird; hedge funds are winning again, kinda; winter is here for Pornhub; and more.

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Opening Bell: 6.29.16

Moody's downgrades 12 UK banks; Soros bets against Deutsche Bank; Saudi Arabia beating off bankers with a stick; Cops say woman wielded hatchet after her demands for sex were rebuffed; and more.

Opening Bell: 02.04.13

UK Regulators Could Split Banks (WSJ) U.K. Treasury chief George Osborne on Monday will announce new powers for regulators to split up banks that flout rules designed to ring-fence retail banking from riskier investment-banking activity. In a wide-ranging speech on banking in Bournemouth, England, Mr. Osborne is expected to say the new powers are needed so that taxpayers will never again be on the hook when banks fail, as they were during the financial crisis. "We're not going to repeat the mistakes of the past. In America and elsewhere, banks found ways to undermine and get around the rules," Mr. Osborne will say, according to the extracts of his speech. "We could see that again—so we are going to arm ourselves in advance. In the jargon, we will "electrify the ring fence." New Details Suggest a Defense in SAC Case (NYT) In bringing its charges, the government said that SAC not only sold out of its position, but also bet against — or shorted — the drug companies' stocks before the public announcement of the bad news. The SAC short position, according to prosecutors, allowed it to earn big profits after shares of the companies, Elan and Wyeth, plummeted. "The fund didn't merely avoid losses, it greedily schemed to profit further by shorting Elan and Wyeth stock," said April Brooks, a senior F.B.I. official in New York, during a press conference on Nov. 20, the day Mr. Martoma was arrested. Internal SAC trading records, according to people directly involved in the case, indicate that the hedge fund did not have a negative bet in place in advance of the announcement of the drug trial's disappointing results. Instead, the records indicated that SAC, through a series of trades, including a complex transaction known as an equity swap, had virtually no exposure — neither long nor short — heading into the disclosure of the drug data. Blackstone To Become Investment Bank? (FT) Blackstone, one of the world's largest alternative asset managers, has quietly secured a securities underwriting licence as its expanding capital markets operation strays into investment banking territory. The licence marks the latest stage in the transformation of big listed private equity groups as they become more broadly based alternative asset managers. Apollo and KKR , two of Blackstone's biggest rivals, also have securities underwriting licences. The move highlights the pressure listed private equity groups are under to generate new sources of fee income to satisfy their public shareholders. "The private equity business is lousy for shareholders," says the head of capital markets for one buyout firm that is not listed. Obama: more tax revenue needed to address deficit (Reuters) President Barack Obama said on Sunday more tax revenue would be needed to reduce the U.S. deficit and signaled he would push hard to get rid of loopholes such as the "carried interest" tax break enjoyed by private equity and hedge fund managers. Herbalife Is The Subject Of 'Pending' Probe (NYP) The Los Angeles-based distributor of nutritional products is the subject of a law enforcement investigation, The Post has learned. The existence of the probe emerged after the Federal Trade Commission, responding to a Freedom of Information Law request by The Post, released 192 complaints filed against Herbalife over the past seven years. New Orleans Braces From Fallout From Blackout (AP) The outage, blamed on an unspecified "abnormality" in the Superdome's power system, was an embarrassment for New Orleans, which was hosting its first Super Bowl since 2002 and was eager to show off how it has been rebuilt since Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Mitch Landrieu called Sunday night's outage "an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans." He said he expected to receive "a full after-action report from all parties involved" in the coming days...For 34 minutes, the players tried to stay loose, the fans milled about in darkened corridors, and stadium officials scrambled to figure out what went wrong. The Ravens barely hung on for a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, needing a goal-line stand in the closing minutes to preserve the championship. "It really hurt us," Baltimore fullback Vonta Leach said. "We had lot of momentum." There is sure to be some fallout for the city and the Superdome — especially since New Orleans plans to bid for the title game in 2018, in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of its founding. Escalators stopped working and credit-card machines shut down, though auxiliary power kept the playing field and concourses from going totally dark. "We sincerely apologize for the incident," Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan said. Most fans seemed to take the outage in stride, even starting up the wave to pass the time. "So we had to spend 30 minutes in the dark? That was just more time for fans to refill their drinks," said Amanda Black of Columbus, Miss. Question of Aiding Cyprus Places Germany in a Bind (NYT) In recent days, Germany has signaled that it is reluctantly edging toward a bailout for Cyprus, a haven for Russian cash, after lifelines have been extended to Greece, Ireland and Portugal to prevent potentially calamitous defaults. While Cyprus makes up just a sliver of the euro zone economy, it is proving to be a first-rate political headache. "I don't think that Germany has ever in the history of the euro zone crisis left itself so little wiggle room," said Nicholas Spiro, the managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London. "But Germany wants the euro to succeed and survive, and they are saying we can't afford a Cyprus bankruptcy." BlackRock Sued by Funds Over Securities Lending Fees (Bloomberg) BlackRock is accused in a lawsuit by two pension funds of reaping “grossly excessive” compensation from securities- lending returns associated with iShares Inc. “Defendants have systematically violated their fiduciary duties, setting up an excessive fee structure designed to loot securities lending returns properly due to iShares investors,” the funds, which invest in iShares, said in a complaint in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee. Two Top Barclays Executives Resign (WSJ) Barclays, whose chairman, chief executive and chief operating officer all resigned last summer in the wake of a series of controversies, said Sunday evening that finance chief Chris Lucas and Mark Harding, its general counsel, will both be retiring in coming months...Messrs. Lucas and Harding were longtime Barclays veterans who worked closely with former CEO Robert Diamond, who resigned last summer after the bank admitted that it had tried to rig benchmark interest rates and paid a roughly $450 million penalty. Youngest American Woman Billionaire Found With In-N-Out (Bloomberg) Lunchtime at the flagship In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Baldwin Park, California, is a study in efficiency. As the order line swells, smiling workers swoop in to operate empty cash registers. Another staffer cleans tables, asking customers if they’re enjoying their hamburger. Outside, a woman armed with a hand-held ordering machine speeds up the drive-through line. Such service has helped In-N-Out create a rabid fan base -- and make Lynsi Torres, the chain’s 30-year-old owner and president, one of the youngest female billionaires on Earth. New store openings often resemble product releases from Apple, with customers lined up hours in advance. City officials plead with the Irvine, California-based company to open restaurants in their municipalities. “They have done a fantastic job of building and maintaining a kind of cult following,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Chicago-based food industry research firm Technomic Inc. “Someone would love to buy them.” That someone includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who told a group of visiting business students in 2005 that he’d like to own the chain, according to an account of the meeting on the UCLA Anderson School of Management website. Mint officially ends distribution of Canadian penny (CP) The phasing-out of the penny will lurch ahead today with the Royal Canadian Mint officially ending its distribution of one-cent coins to Canada's financial institutions. The move comes nearly a year after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the demise of the penny, whose production cost came to exceed its monetary value. But as it faces extinction in the pockets and tills of most Canadians, the humble penny is still in demand in some artistic circles where it retains significant value. Renee Gruszecki, a Halifax-based academic and archivist, has spent the past year making a living through a jewelry business devoted primarily to preserving the country's stray cents. About 30,000 strategically sorted pennies fill Gruszecki's home and eventually find their way into the accessories produced at Coin Coin Designs and Co. Gruszecki, a long-time collector of lucky pennies, believes her pieces will help preserve a symbol that is both an object of superstition and a Canadian icon. "The maple leaf is synonymous with everything Canadian. We all identify with it," she said in a telephone interview. "Now it's just no longer going to be present among us, so I'm saddened by that." The Bank of Canada's Currency Museum has already taken steps to preserve the penny's place in Canadian culture. A mural consisting of nearly 16,000 one-cent pieces has been assembled at the museum to commemorate the coin's history, said assistant curator Raewyn Passmore. The mosaic, which depicts a giant penny measuring about two square metres, is comprised of coins ranging from the lustrous to the tarnished.

Opening Bell: 4.13.16

JP Morgan tops estimates; Five big banks' living wills rejected; Mr. Met loves the Mets, despite being denied National League Championship ring; and more.

By Rlevente [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 6.27.16

EU leaders hope Brits will reconsider; London bets screwed bookies; Goldman predicts UK recession; Sarah Palin compares Brexit to Declaration of Independence; and more.

Opening Bell: 4.16.15

Goldman and Citi beat estimates; Ben Bernanke works for Ken Griffin now; Schwarzman describes Blackstone as "earnings machine"; Stripper School shutdown; and more.

NoelGallagherBrexit

Opening Bell: 6.9.17

UK election results threaten Brexit, sanity; Scaramucci finally gets that job in Paris he always wanted; Travis Kalanick's inspiring struggle with one night of celibacy; and more.