Opening Bell: 2.9.18 - Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 2.9.18

Shutdown over fast; Global stocks still getting hammered; Brexit still a mess; Florid woman mercy flushes emotional support hamster; and more!
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House Passes Budget Deal to Raise Spending and Reopen Government [NYT]
House Democrats, after threatening to bring the bill down because it did nothing to protect young undocumented immigrants, gave Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin the votes he did not have in his own party and ensured passage. In the end, 73 House Democrats voted yes to more than offset the 67 Republicans who voted no.
Just before the vote, Mr. Ryan voiced support for bringing a debate on immigration to the House floor — though he did not make a concrete promise, as Democratic leaders had wanted.

Global Stocks Extend Selloff; Treasury Yields Rise: Markets Wrap [Bloomberg]
European stocks declined following a turbulent session in Asia that left a sea of red hours after U.S. equities on Thursday entered into a correction. Treasury yields rose and the dollar edged lower.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index is set for its worst week since 2016 as banks and financial-services stocks led most industry sectors lower. But U.S. equity futures gained as Congress passed a delayed budget deal, suggesting a measure of calm may return to markets after a selloff that wiped about $5 trillion from global stocks since January. Core European bonds steadied. China’s benchmark fell the most in almost two years earlier, while the MSCI World Index is set for its biggest weekly drop since 2011.

EU's Barnier says no update from Britain on Brexit [Reuters]
The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday that he had received no update from London on what sort of relation it wanted with the bloc after Brexit.
The lack of an update stemmed from scheduling constraints on the British side, he said.

Fund crashes after wrong-way volatility trade [CNBC]
LJM Partners, a Chicago-based hedge fund with about half a billion dollars in assets, pinpointed the damage on spiking volatility, a trade that has claimed more than one scalp in the last few trading days. Their mutual fund, known as the LJM Preservation and Growth Fund, collapsed by 82 percent over the last week and was closed to new capital on Wednesday.
Investors in the industry are calling LJM among the most prominent funds to fall victim to the popular "short vol trade." The trade had become profitable for many hedge funds, including LJM, whose "Preservation and Growth" fund posted positive returns every year except one since it launched in 2006, according to fund documents

Amazon to Launch Delivery Service That Would Vie With FedEx, UPS [WSJ]
Amazon expects to roll out the new delivery service in Los Angeles in coming weeks with third-party merchants that sell goods via its website, according to the people. Amazon then aims to expand the service to more cities as soon as this year, some of the people say.
While the program is being piloted with the company’s third-party sellers, it is envisioned to eventually be opened to other businesses too, according to some of the people. Amazon is planning to undercut UPS and FedEx on pricing, although the exact rate structure is still unclear, these people said.

Ex-Credit Suisse Banker Gets 5 Years for Looting Accounts [Bloomberg]
Patrice Lescaudron was sentenced to five years in prison Friday in a verdict delivered by a judge in Geneva. The 54-year-old caused losses of 143 million Swiss francs ($152 million) and personally enriched himself by 30 million francs.“
The mistakes made by the accused are serious and lasted for eight years,’’ Judge Alexandra Banna said as she read out the verdict. “His motivations were essentially egotistical, driven by the lure of profits.’’

Private equity firms fighting over $2.4B bid for vinyl-siding maker [NYPost]
Rival PE firm Hellman & Friedman is weighing a bid for Ply Gem that could top CD&R’s $2.4 billion deal for the Cary, NC, company, according to two sources familiar with H&F’s thinking.
CD&R agreed on Jan. 31 to buy Ply Gem, which also makes vinyl and aluminum windows, for $21.64 per share — a 20 percent premium to its stock price.
CD&R is also in the process of buying Atrium Windows & Doors — which it plans to merge with Ply Gem.

Florida woman says she flushed emotional support hamster down toilet after airline refused to let it fly [Telegraph]
The Miami Herald reports Belen Aldecosea flew home from college to South Florida, having twice called Spirit Airlines to ensure she could bring Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster with her on the flight.
But when Aldecosea arrived at Baltimore airport, Spirit refused to allow the animal onboard.
The 21-year-old told the paper she flushed Pebbles at an airline employee's suggestion, after running out of other options.

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Wall Street Sputters Back To Life (WSJ) It wasn't until Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYSE Euronext Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer rang the opening bell that traders knew for sure that the systems would work. "Out of this postapocalyptic world that we're all looking at, that's a ray of good news, that they're actually able to get the exchange open," said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co., a brokerage with operations on the NYSE floor. Barclays Faces $435 Million Fine, Another Probe (WSJ) Barclays aced a double-barreled assault from U.S. authorities, as the federal energy-market regulator sought a record $435 million in penalties for the bank's alleged manipulation of U.S. electricity markets, and the lender also disclosed that it was facing a U.S. anticorruption investigation. The corruption investigation focuses on potential violations during the bank's efforts to raise money from Middle Eastern investors in the early days of the financial crisis. The probe, being conducted by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is at an early stage. Wells Expands Into Investment Banking As Others Retreat (Reuters) The growth worries some investors who want the notoriously conservative bank to stick to its knitting, but Wells Fargo believes that now is a good time to hire. "Our eyes are wide open," said John Shrewsberry, head of the bank's investment banking and capital markets operations, known as Wells Fargo Securities. "There are a lot of very talented people at different stages of availability," he added in an interview this week. The fourth-largest U.S. bank says it can earn solid returns in investment banking while taking little risk for itself. It is focusing on services that its corporate lending customers need, such as stock and bond underwriting and merger advice. For investors, it is looking at areas like processing futures and swaps trades. The bank shies away from riskier undertakings like trading for its own account. The Wells Fargo Securities unit is relatively small now. It's biggest hub is in Charlotte, North Carolina, far from the storm that has hobbled Wall Street this week. In a few years, the unit could account for twice as much of the firm's revenue as it does now - an estimated 10 percent compared to its current five, Deutsche Bank analyst Matt O'Connor wrote in a report. Sandy's Economic Cost: Up To $50 Billion And Counting (CNBC) By contrast, the two costliest hurricanes in U.S. history to date were Katrina, with estimated losses of $146 billion, and Andrew, with loses estimated at $44 billion. But there are offsets and Moody's Mark Zandi and other economists note that there will be considerable rebuilding that will accompany the storm. Because the storm hit early in the quarter, Zandi points out that if $20 billion is spent cleaning up and rebuilding, the actual measured impact on gross domestic product could be zero. IHS Global Insight U.S. Economists Gregory Daco and Nigel Gault are doubtful. They note that the rebuilding often takes the place of investment elsewhere and often not everything is rebuilt. “The effect on growth for the fourth quarter will not be catastrophic but might still be noticeable, especially in an economy with little momentum anyway,” IHS wrote. The debate begs the question of whether such natural disasters can ultimately stimulate an economy. Eric Strobl, of the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, who has studied the impact of hurricanes for more than a decade, found that hurricanes at the local level are usually negative for growth. NYC Struggles to Come Back to Life as Storm Chaos Lingers (Bloomberg) New York City struggled to return to normal life after superstorm Sandy, managing a partial resumption of mass transit amid a landscape of miles-long traffic jams, widespread blackouts and swarms of marooned residents. Limited service on the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains began today, and service on 14 of 23 subway lines will resume tomorrow, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing in Manhattan. Still, power losses kept thousands of people and businesses in the dark and prevented trains from running below 34th Street in Manhattan. Basements and homes were waterlogged or submerged, and 6,300 remained in shelters...The lack of transit options is unprecedented, said Bernie Wagenblast, who has monitored metro traffic for more than 30 years, including stints as a radio reporter on WABC and WINS. “It reminds me a little of back in the ’70s when we had the gas crisis and cars were lined up for long, long distances trying to get gasoline,” Wagenblast said. “Now you’ve got cars in addition to people with their gas cans waiting on line who are trying to get fuel.” In Manhattan, an unofficial line divided the haves with power from the have-nots. South of about 34th Street, far fewer shops or restaurants than usual were open. Traffic lights were inoperable, though an unspoken etiquette emerged as many drivers took turns letting one another pass through intersections. Work was stopped at the Ground Zero construction site, which is still flooded. LaGuardia Airport, the only one of the three major New York-area airports that remains closed, can’t resume flights until floodwaters are drained and ground lights and equipment are checked. Labor Dept. Report on Jobs to Appear Friday as Planned (NYT) The hurricane had shut down government offices on Monday and Tuesday, and threatened to delay the release of the monthly jobs numbers. That led to hand-wringing in the presidential campaigns and even some accusations that the Obama administration might delay the numbers for its political benefit. But a Labor Department spokesman said Wednesday in an e-mail message that the report would come out as planned, at 8:30 a.m. E.S.T. on Friday. The Philadelphia 76ers unveil the world’s largest T-shirt cannon (YS) On opening night, the Sixers [unveiled] Big Bella, the world's largest T-shirt launcher that fires 100 tees in just 60 seconds. Big Bella weighs 600 pounds and, when firing T-shirts into the upper reaches of the Wells Fargo Center, can be up to 10 feet high. The team commissioned the creation of Big Bella from FX in Motion, an entertainment elements company out of New Berlin, Wisc. The team will also drop T-shirts, free game tickets and other promotional items from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center down to fans below in a new themed "Sixers Parachute Drop." Australia Targets China’s Rich With “Millionaire” Visa (Deal Journal) Got 5 million Australian dollars (US$5.2 million) spare and need a residency visa? Australia’s doors will soon be open. From Nov. 24, Australia will accept applications under a new program, known as the Significant Investor Visa scheme, aimed at attracting the world’s wealthy to make the move and park their money Down Under. The only catch is that the A$5 million must be invested in state and territory Australian government debt, privately-owned Australian companies and managed funds that invest in Australian assets regulated by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission for four years. The new visa has already got financial advisers throughout Australia devising investment solutions for applicants. Consultants expect no shortage of takers especially from China, which is seeing an increasing flow of wealthy citizens sending money overseas, investing in assets as diverse as condos in Cyprus, or education for children overseas. A Wall Street Journal analysis of these flows suggests that in the 12 months through September, about US$225 billion headed out of China, equivalent to about 3% of the nation’s economic output last year. Harvard Business School Survey: HBS Students Favor Obama (Harbus) Surveys completed by 668 members of the HBS student body last week revealed that President Barack Obama had the support of 65% of the student community. Challenger Mitt Romney captured 32% of the vote while the remainder said they supported a third-party candidate, were unsure, or did not plan to vote. A Year After MF Global's Collapse, Brokerage Firms Feel Less Pressure For Change (Dealbook) For their part, many MF Global employees remain chastened by their firm’s collapse. Lawmakers hauled Mr. Corzine, a former senator from New Jersey, to Washington three times to testify before Congressional committees. Some MF Global employees remain unemployed while others took major pay cuts to work for the trustee unwinding the firm’s assets. Several MF Global employees planned to gather on Thursday for drinks at a Midtown Manhattan bar, just blocks from their old firm, to commiserate on their trying year. They canceled the event after another disaster, Hurricane Sandy, left some people stranded without power. Hawaii Tourist Saved By Taekwondo Skills (ABC) A 12-foot-long tiger shark messed with the wrong person. Mariko Haugen, a taekwando black belt, was enjoying a swim in Maui, Hawaii, when she was confronted by the creature. “She saw it a few seconds before it hit – and she gave it her best Tae Kwon Do black belt punch in the nose,” Don Haugen, Mariko’s husband, wrote on Facebook. Haugen’s husband and another man saw the attack and helped carry her to safety. She received more than 100 stitches to close wounds on her right hand and thigh.