Opening Bell: 1.18.18

Shutdown vote imminent; Morgan Stanely beats; Bitcoin fights back; Florida still Florida; and more!
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Congress to vote Thursday for funding bill to avoid government shutdown [Reuters]
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate and most legislation, including spending bills or an immigration deal, will require 60 votes to pass.
A vote on the bill is expected to come after 2:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT), House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would take up the short-term funding measure as soon as the House approves it.

Morgan Stanley earnings: 84 cents per share, vs 77 cents EPS expected [CNBC]
Morgan Stanley posted fourth-quarter earnings and revenue on Thursday that beat analyst expectations, excluding a charge related to the tax bill, as strong results in wealth management offset a big drop in fixed income trading revenue.
Wealth management revenue grew by 10.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, helping offset declines in the bank's trading revenue. Fixed income, commodities and currencies trading revenue decreased by 46 percent. Equities trading revenue fell 5 percent.
The company's stock rose 1.5 percent in the premarket Thursday. Morgan Stanley shares are up 4.1 percent this year, slightly outperforming the S&P 500, which is up 3.9 percent.

Apple to Pay $38 Billion in Taxes on Cash Overseas, Build New U.S. Campus [WSJ]
Apple said it would invest $30 billion in capital spending in the U.S. over five years that would create more than 20,000 jobs. The total includes a new campus, which initially will house technical support for customers, and $10 billion toward data centers across the country. It also will expand from $1 billion to $5 billion a fund it established last year for investing in advanced manufacturing in the U.S.
Apple’s $38 billion tax commitment is the largest such sum announced in response to the major overhaul of the U.S. tax code that President Donald Trump signed into law late last year. That law included an incentive for U.S. companies to bring home offshore holdings, with companies required to pay a one-time tax of 15.5% on overseas profits held in cash and other liquid assets.

Bitcoin Holds Ground as Frantic Rally Sets $10,000 Support Level [Bloomberg]
The world’s largest digital currency climbed 3.9 percent to $11,822 at 7:40 a.m. in New York, Bloomberg composite pricing showed. It steadied in Asian and European trading as investors paused for breath following a frantic 24 hours in which the token swung through a $2,600 range. Rivals ethereum and litecoin rose about 2 percent each, while Ripple jumped 17 percent.

Goldman Sachs Once Looked Invincible. Now It’s Losing Money. [NYT]
The bank’s per-share earnings and revenue were both higher compared with a year earlier without the tax charge. But the results announced on Wednesday also revealed a decline in Goldman’s trading might, which has been drained by a potent combination of placid markets and quiet clients. Revenue in its business of buying and selling bonds, commodities and currencies — historically an engine of Goldman’s results — sank to $1 billion in the fourth quarter, half of what it was during the same period in 2016. For the year, net revenue in that business fell 30 percent.
The drop sent Goldman’s shares down 3 percent on Wednesday.

West Village penthouse owner wants to keep hedgie’s $2M deposit [NYPost]
William Monaghan put it on the market in 2015, and hedgie Eric Cole agreed to buy it on July 28, according to court papers.
Cole put down an $1.8 million deposit, sources said
Everything was seemingly proceeding smoothly until Cole suddenly alerted Monaghan on Dec. 20 that he wanted to back out.
So, Monaghan sued Cole for breaching the contract and has asked the court to order Cole to forfeit the cash.
Cole, 45, a protégé of hedge fund billionaire David Tepper, runs Warlander Asset Management, a $1 billion credit-focused hedge fund launched in 2015.

Burmese python and alligator caught in incredible fight to the death on Florida golf course [Mirror]
A deadly battle between a giant python and an alligator was captured on camera at a Florida golf course when the enormous reptiles raised the stakes on the field of play to a critically high level.
Dr Richard Nadler photographed the battle to the death at the 10th hole as he was playing golf at Fiddler's Creek club in Naples...
"As far as I know the gator won. There was no evidence of either animal the next day. We all assume that the snake was eaten by the gator," he said after photographing the entangled animals.

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Obama Wins Re-Election With Romney Defeated In Key States (Bloomberg) Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney, winning at least 303 electoral votes in yesterday’s election with 270 needed for the victory. With one state -- Florida -- yet to be decided, Romney had 206 electoral votes...Obama won the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. He also carried Pennsylvania, where Romney made an 11th-hour bid for support to try to derail the president’s drive for re-election. North Carolina was the only battleground Romney won. Romney Campaigns To The End (WSJ) Hours before Mitt Romney lost his six-year quest to win the presidency, he said he had prepared only one speech—a victory speech...Until the final hour, Mr. Romney and his aides expressed confidence that he would win. The candidate, who prefers data and metrics to chitchat, appeared to be caught off guard by the loss even though he trailed in polls in crucial battlegrounds such as Ohio. Triumph Of The Nerds: Nate Silver Wins In 50 States (Mashable) The Fivethirtyeight.com analyst, despite being pilloried by the pundits, outdid even his 2008 prediction. In that year, his mathematical model correctly called 49 out of 50 states, missing only Indiana (which went to Obama by 0.1%.) This year, according to all projections, Silver’s model has correctly predicted 50 out of 50 states. A last-minute flip for Florida, which finally went blue in Silver’s prediction on Monday night, helped him to a perfect game. Loser Ryan Also A Winner (NYP) The Republican vice-presidential hopeful hedged his bet by running for re-election to his congressional seat in Wisconsin — where last night, he was declared the winner for an eighth straight time. Goldman Partners Pocket $22 Million (WSJ) More than 30 executives, including Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, recently cashed in stock options awarded in the afterglow of the company's initial public offering in 1999. According to a securities filing, the executives, all Goldman partners, pocketed a total of $21.8 million by exercising options and selling the underlying shares in the three days after the firm reported third-quarter results in mid-October. The options expire at the end of November, and cashing in produced instant profits because Goldman's share price is more than 50% higher than when the options were awarded in 2002. "By exercising 10-year-old options before they expired later this year, executives captured some of the value we have built for shareholders over that period," said a spokesman for the securities firm. In contrast, many of the executives' remaining options are worthless, at least for now, because they were granted from 2005 to 2008. The stock peaked in October 2007 at about $239, or 89% higher than Tuesday's closing price of $126.25 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4 p.m. The biggest gain went to Michael S. Sherwood, a Goldman vice chairman and the firm's top executive in Europe, who received $5.2 million from exercising options on 115,211 shares. Mr. Blankfein collected $3.1 million, while departing Chief Financial Officer David A. Viniar got $2.3 million, the filing shows. JPMorgan Nears SEC Settlement (WSJ) JPMorgan is close to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would end one probe into how the company's Bear Stearns Cos. unit packaged and sold home loans to investors, according to people familiar with the case. A pact with the nation's largest bank by assets would be the first tangible victory in a wide-ranging SEC investigation into Wall Street's sale of mortgage-backed securities before the onset of the financial crisis. Since 2010, the SEC has issued more than 300 subpoenas or document requests related to the probe and collected more than 30 million pages of documents, enforcement chief Robert Khuzami said earlier this year. BNP Paribas Third Quarter Net Doubles On Trading Gains (Bloomberg) Pretax profit at BNP Paribas’s corporate- and investment- banking unit, or CIB, rose 7.3 percent to 732 million euros, beating analysts’ estimate of 686 million euros. Revenue from equity and advisory operations climbed 51 percent to 444 million euros, while fixed-income sales more than doubled to 1.13 billion euros. After Obama Victory, Donald Trump Rants On Twitter (ABC) “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty,” Trump Tweeted. “Our nation is totally divided! Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us. This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! And then: “Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before. Our nation is a once great nation divided! The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy. Hopefully the House of Representatives can hold our country together for four more years…stay strong and never give up! House of Representatives shouldn’t give anything to Obama unless he terminates Obamacare.” And finally: “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” Fitch: No Fiscal Honeymoon For President Obama (CNBC) President Barack Obama will need to quickly secure agreement on avoiding the "fiscal cliff" and raising the debt ceiling following Tuesday's elections, Fitch Ratings said. The economic policy challenge facing the president is to put in place a credible deficit-reduction plan necessary to underpin economic recovery and confidence in the full faith and credit of the U.S., according to Fitch. Resolution of these fiscal policy choices would likely result in the U.S. retaining its triple-A status from Fitch, the firm said. Failure to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner, as well as securing agreement on credible deficit reduction, would likely result in a rating downgrade in 2013, Fitch said. The New Haven For Investors (WSJ) Treasurys have a new rival for safe-haven status: U.S. companies. Bonds of Exxon Mobil and Johnson & Johnson are trading with yields below those of comparable Treasurys, a sign that investors perceive them as a safer bet. It is a rare phenomenon that some market observers said could be the beginning of a new era for debt markets. It could ultimately mean some companies will borrow at lower rates than the U.S. government. Swiss, Greeks Begin Talks On Tax Deal (WSJ) Switzerland has begun formal talks on a deal to tax assets stashed in secret Swiss bank accounts by Greek citizens, in line with similar agreements struck with other European countries, the Swiss government said Wednesday. Woman Wearing MIT Shirt Nearly Banned From Voting In Boca Raton (BNN) A woman attempting to vote in West Boca Raton yesterday was initially prohibited from entering the polling place because she was wearing a t-shirt with the letters MIT. BocaNewsNow.com heard from multiple sources that an election supervisor at the polling place ultimately realized that MIT stands for “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” — a school where students tend to know how to spell — and was not a campaign shirt for the Republican candidate, who spells his name MITT. Campaigning is not permitted within several yards of a polling place. The woman was ultimately allowed to vote.