Opening Bell: 8.5.16

Wilbur Ross expects Donald Trump to start acting normal; Goldman warns on Brexit effects; Georgia man busted after raging at wife over too cheesy grilled cheese sandwich; and more.
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By Maggie Hoffman (Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Investor Wilbur Ross urges Trump not to let his behavior become the issue (Reuters)
Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross stood behind Republican Donald Trump but urged him to stop engaging in exchanges that benefit the Democrats and make the real estate mogul's behavior the issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. "This election is Donald's to lose and so far the Democrats have been clever about baiting him and he generally has bitten," Ross said in an email to Reuters late on Wednesday. Ross said Trump's reaction in recent days to criticism by the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in the Iraq war "has enabled the Democrats to turn the table and instead of the behavior of the quintessential Washington insider being the issue he is in danger of letting the Democrats make his behavior be the issue." Ross added, "I assume this will change soon."

Goldman Sachs says Brexit could adversely affect operations (Reuters)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Thursday that Britain's vote to leave the European Union may adversely affect some of its operations in the EU and could require the bank to restructure some of its businesses. Brexit will also likely change arrangements by which firms in the United Kingdom are able to provide services in the EU, which may adversely affect the way the bank conducts certain operations, the bank said in regulatory filing.

Berkshire Said to Draw Fed Scrutiny Over Wells Fargo Investment (Bloomberg)
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is well known as a tapestry of modern capitalism for its ownership of dozens of companies and investments in dozens more. Now that interconnected web is prompting U.S. regulators to examine whether Berkshire’s stake in one of its biggest holdings, Wells Fargo & Co., violates rules for how much credit banks can extend to corporate insiders, according to two people familiar with the review. Wells Fargo provides financing to many in Berkshire’s sea of subsidiaries. The relationships have triggered questions from agencies including the Federal Reserve into whether legal limits are being exceeded for how much a bank can lend to entities controlled by someone who owns a big chunk of its stock.

Justice Department Appeals Ruling Throwing Out Crisis-Era Bank of America Case (WSJ)
The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling throwing out a civil mortgage-fraud case against Bank of America Corp., saying the court had “overlooked a wealth of evidence” in reaching its decision. The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York had ruled in May that the government hadn’t proven fraud by Bank of America’s Countrywide unit, only breaches of a contract, in a stunning setback for the government. The Justice Department said the three-judge panel had overlooked the terms of the contract that support its case. It asked in papers filed Thursday that the court reconsider the case and send it back for another trial if it reached the same conclusion.

Professional Joint Roller Earns Up To $7,000 For His Creations (HP)
Tony Greenhand, 26, of Albany, Oregon, told Vocativ he’s “considered one of the best joint-rollers in the world.” His biggest order yet was for $7,000 to make a set of small joints that looked like weapons, including a fully smokeable AK-47 spliff he made from rolling papers and a half-pound of weed. “I basically jump out of bed and start rolling joints,” he told Vocativ. But Greenhand didn’t come out of the womb a Monet of marijuana. His first joint, which he rolled as a teen while growing up in rural Washington state, was hideously deformed thanks to too much saliva on the rolling papers. “I was essentially, at my core, humiliated,” he said. “I bounced back though.” Greenhand shares some of his best work on Instagram ― including an awesome Pikachu joint.

Firms Routinely Steer Analysts, in Efforts to Deliver Earnings Surprises (WSJ)
Quarter after quarter, about 75% of companies in the S&P 500 index meet or exceed analysts’ earnings forecasts, a statistic that has held up in good times and bad. One reason for such consistently impressive results is that some companies quietly nudge analysts’ numbers, almost always lower. A federal rule bars companies from selectively disclosing material nonpublic information but doesn’t prohibit private conversations in which companies can gently push analysts in helpful directions

Carl Icahn can profit from Trump Taj Mahal casino flop (CNBC)
Icahn, through Icahn Enterprises LP, is also an investor in Tropicana Entertainment, a pink-sheets listed gaming company with operations in Atlantic City (where the Trump casino announced it will shutter come Labor Day in a few weeks). The company's stock is up more than 9 percent this year, and Icahn is its chairman and, by proxy of the fund, controlling shareholder. "Tropicana AC has benefited from the closure of several competitors in Atlantic City and recent capital investments," Icahn's holding company said in financials Thursday.

Taconic co-founder Brody comes out of retirement to launch new hedge fund (Reuters)
Hedge fund veteran Kenneth Brody has come out of retirement to launch a new money management firm, a person familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday. Brody, who co-founded Taconic Capital Advisors and retired in 2013, has reemerged as chief executive of Sutton Square Partners, a New York-based hedge fund manager. Sutton Square will start investing on Sept. 1 with more than $100 million, including $50 million from Brody, according to the person. The fund will focus on stock picking, betting for and against stocks across sectors.

Georgia Man, 55, Busted After Raging At Wife Over Too Cheesy Grilled Cheese Sandwich (TSG)
According to an Athens-Clarke County Police Department report, James De Paola, 55, began “shouting and cursing” at his wife Michelle during a confrontation last Wednesday afternoon in the couple’s Athens home. The unemployed De Paola became incensed at his 51-year-old spouse due to her “using three slices of cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich.” De Paola told cops that he had told the victim she “could make a grilled cheese sandwich with two pieces of cheese instead of three.” De Paola’s wife told police that he was shouting in her face and that his spit hit her in the face.

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Sokol has been "completely cleared" as there was no evidence against his client, Levine said. Cohen’s SAC Tops Most Profitable List Amid Insider Probes (Bloomberg) SAC Capital International, Cohen’s flagship fund, was the world’s most-profitable hedge fund in the first 10 months of 2012, earning $789.5 million for Cohen, 56, and his managers, according to Bloomberg Markets’ annual ranking of hedge funds...SAC Capital International is No. 1 not because of performance; it ties for No. 86 on that measure, with a 10 percent return in the Markets ranking of the 100 top-performing funds. Rather, the fund earned the most money because Cohen charges some of the highest fees on Wall Street. While most funds impose a 1 to 2 percent management fee and then take 15 to 20 percent of the profits, Cohen levies 3 percent and as much as 50 percent, according to investors. 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You have a major ideological clash going on in Congress and many people uncomfortable with it, but it is part of democracy. The more positive light is that we actually have a deal and can move forward," Sean Egan, managing director of Egan-Jones told CNBC on Friday. "We've gotten a lot more comfortable about the U.S. and we probably won't take additional negative actions for the foreseeable future," he added. Almost All of Wall Street Got 2012 Market Calls Wrong (Bloomberg) From John Paulson’s call for a collapse in Europe to Morgan Stanley’s warning that U.S. stocks would decline, Wall Street got little right in its prognosis for the year just ended. Paulson, who manages $19 billion in hedge funds, said the euro would fall apart and bet against the region’s debt. Morgan Stanley predicted the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index would lose 7 percent and Credit Suisse foresaw wider swings in equity prices. All of them proved wrong last year and investors would have done better listening to Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, who said the real risk was being too pessimistic. The ill-timed advice shows that even the largest banks and most-successful investors failed to anticipate how government actions would influence markets. Unprecedented central bank stimulus in the U.S. and Europe sparked a 16 percent gain in the S&P 500 including dividends, led to a 23 percent drop in the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, paid investors in Greek debt 78 percent and gave Treasuries a 2.2 percent return even after Warren Buffett called bonds “dangerous.” Fed Divided Over Bond Buys (WSJ) A new fault line has opened up at the Federal Reserve over how long to continue bond-buying programs aimed at spurring stronger economic growth. Minutes released Thursday of the Fed's Dec. 11-12 policy meeting showed that officials were divided. Some wanted to continue the programs through the end of 2013, others wanted to end them well before then and a minority wanted to halt the programs right away. Swiss Bank Pleads Guilty In Probe (WSJ) In the latest blow to Switzerland's centuries-old banking practices, the country's oldest bank pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge in the U.S. on Thursday and admitted that it helped wealthy Americans for years avoid tens of millions of dollars in taxes by hiding their income from secret accounts abroad. Wegelin & Co., founded in 1741, is the latest Swiss bank to reach a deal with U.S. prosecutors as they crack down on Americans who kept their money in secret accounts overseas and the entities which helped them. Three Wegelin bankers also were charged criminally in the U.S. last year. Subway worker tells customer to 'fight me like a man,' during confrontation over ketchup (WFTV) Luis Martinez said he stopped by a Subway shop in a Walmart on South Semoran Boulevard late Tuesday night to get something to eat. He said he ordered a Philly cheese steak the way he always does. "American cheese, onions and ketchup," said Martinez. Lawrence Ordone was working behind the counter. "He wants ketchup on the Philly cheese steak and I have never put -- we don't even have ketchup at Subway -- I've never put ketchup on anybody's sandwich," said Ordone. Martinez said he didn't want the sandwich without the ketchup and that a man next to him in line offered to buy the sandwich. Ordone said that Martinez mouthed off at the man. Martinez denied saying anything, but neither he or Ordone disputed what they said happened next. "That's when I flew off the handle," said Ordone. 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