Opening Bell: 1.11.18

Korea sparks crypto flash crash; underdog Apple catches lucky Trump tax break; China spooks bond market; Ikea's new urine-powered ad campaign; and more!
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Over $100 billion wiped off global cryptocurrency market following talk of South Korea trading ban [CNBC]
Major cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ripple and ethereum took a hammering Thursday following the news that South Korea could be preparing to ban trading in digital coins.
At 7:25 a.m. London time, bitcoin was down nearly 6 percent, while ethereum fell over 11 percent and ripple took a 9 percent tumble, versus their price a day ago, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com. Many of those coins began to pare losses later in the morning. Ripple was up nearly a tenth of a percent by 8:10 a.m. London time.

Investors Spooked at Specter of Central Banks Halting Bond-Buying Spree [NYT]
Bond markets appeared to be further spooked on Wednesday by a report that China’s central bank, which owns $1.2 trillion in United States Treasury bonds, may be poised to slow or even halt its buying of United States debt. China has total reserves of just over $3 trillion.
Yields on 10-year Treasury notes climbed in early trading, and the dollar weakened at the prospect of lessened demand tied to a selling of United States bonds by a large holder like China. The rising yields led Bill Gross of Janus Henderson, whose renown as a bond investor came to define the multidecade bull market for fixed-income securities, to pronounce the start of a bear market for bonds, although he said on Wednesday that he did not foresee drastic losses.

An Alleged Theft of a Billion-Dollar Fund Grips ETF World [WSJ]
Mr. Chanin and Nasdaq Inc., which last year bought the firm that financed Mr. Chanin’s startup in return for a share of the profits, allege in separate lawsuits that the funds were swiped by Sam Masucci, head of a New Jersey company that helps would-be ETF providers run the day-to-day operations of their funds.
The company “fabricated frivolous legal claims that they used to terminate their agreements with Nasdaq and PureFunds in an attempt to unlawfully steal the PureFunds ETF,” Nasdaq said in its lawsuit, filed in October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Apple Could Get a $4 Billion Boost From Tax-Law Quirk [Bloomberg]
Apple alone, which disclosed an offshore cash hoard of $252 billion as of Sept. 30, may be able to lop more than $4 billion off a future tax bill, according to Stephen Shay, a tax and business law professor at Harvard Law School who wrote about what he called the “potential loophole” last month. He characterized the boon as a side effect of the speed with which congressional Republicans passed their tax bill.

Exclusive: U.S. Justice Department blindsided banking agency on pot policy flip - sources [Reuters]
The announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime critic of legalizing marijuana, caused confusion among banks about how to do business with marijuana growers, processors and distributors without running afoul of federal money laundering laws.
The uncertainty unleashed a flood of phone calls to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an office within the U.S. Treasury Department, from congressional offices with questions from lawmakers and constituents.
But FinCEN had no ready answers because it received no advance warning of Sessions’ Jan. 4 announcement rescinding an Obama-era policy that had eased up on federal enforcement of marijuana laws, said congressional aides who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ikea offers discount if you pee on their new ad [NYP]
Ikea’s latest magazine ad in Sweden is causing a splash thanks to its revolutionary built-in pregnancy test, which expectant mothers can claim for a discount on cribs...
The ad, which is running in Amelia magazine, a women’s publication in Sweden, uses a similar technology to your standard pregnancy test, but rather than yes or no symbols showing up, the page will give you a coupon for discounted cribs if you’re pregnant.

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