Opening Bell: 3.20.18

Facebook and trade wars got everyone spooked; Brexit update; Uber won't kill anyone today; Bear votes in Russian election; and more!
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Stocks Struggle After Tech Selloff; Dollar Rises: Markets Wrap [Bloomberg]
Trading was mixed and muted in equities across both Europe and Asia following Monday’s selloff, which was sparked by a series of negative tech stories including Facebook Inc.’s data issues and a fatal accident involving an Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving car. U.S. stock futures drifted lower on Tuesday, with contracts for the Nasdaq 100 pointing to more tech declines. Metals were once again under pressure, but Bloomberg’s broader index of raw materials increased.

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Trade war threat is now Wall Street's top economic fear, survey says [CNBC]
Protectionism tops the list of worries on Wall Street, the survey shows, far outpacing concerns over inflation, terrorism and even the Fed itself.
"The market has shifted from a fear of a monetary policy misstep, tightening too aggressively, to a trade policy mistake, escalating into a trade war with China," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR, wrote in his response to the survey. "The balance of risk for equities has moved from the Fed to the White House."

A Curveball From the New Tax Law: It Makes Baseball Trades Harder [NYT]
The provision is raising concerns and questions across Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, starting with: How do you value a player?
“There is no fair-market value of a baseball player. There isn’t,” said Daniel R. Halem, the chief legal officer of Major League Baseball. “I don’t really know what our clubs are going to do to address the issue. We haven’t fully figured it out yet. This is a change we hope was inadvertent, and we’re going to lobby hard to get it corrected.
The N.B.A. is similarly perplexed. It sent teams an email this month detailing the disruption of the trading system under the new law, but told executives it was still figuring out how to respond.

EU Offers U.K. ‘Improved’ Equivalence for Financial Services [Bloomberg]
It’s not clear what “improved” would mean. What is clear is that the EU is rejecting the U.K.’s bid for its banks to have access to the EU on the basis of mutual recognition of rules. British institutions would only be able to trade in the EU if its rules are deemed equivalent by the European Commission -- a unilateral approval that can be withdrawn at short notice.
Equivalence also means limited access to the bloc’s single market and accepting rules without having a say in making them -- something the U.K. government and its banks reject. The commission has already started to review financial services legislation, to ensure that equivalence rules are appropriate for the situation after the withdrawal of the U.K., according to the document seen by Bloomberg.

RBS Chief McEwan hopes to resolve Justice Department case in 2018 [Reuters]
“I’ve got the timing of this completely wrong for the last 15 months, I thought we would’ve had it tidied by end-2017... all I’d say (is) it will be in hopefully in 2018,” Ross McEwan said at the Morgan Stanley European Financials conference in London.
The expected multi-billion-dollar settlement would be a key milestone for the state-owned lender, allowing it to resume paying dividends to shareholders and paving the way for the British government to resume selling its shares in the lender.

Facebook facing a level of uncertainty it hasn’t seen before, Goldman Sachs says [CNBC]
"It certainly introduces a level of uncertainty that we haven't seen with Facebook before," Heath Terry, lead internet research analyst at Goldman Sachs, told CNBC on Tuesday.
Terry explained that every fast-growing tech giant was likely to face a similar crisis, before singling out the so-called click fraud scandal which threatened Google's growth prospects in recent years.
"That's going to be the same here for Facebook. It's going to be how they manage through this that will ultimately determine their long term future," Terry said.

Uber Suspends Driverless-Car Program After Pedestrian Is Killed [WSJ]
In response, Uber on Monday temporarily pulled its self-driving cars off the roads where it has been testing them in four cities. An Uber spokeswoman said the company is investigating the incident and cooperating with authorities.
Police in Tempe, Ariz., said the Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human safety operator at the wheel when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night while she was walking her bicycle outside of a crosswalk. The woman later died from her injuries, according to a police statement.

From Wall Street to weed: How the financial crisis lit up the pot industry [Reuters]
At the time, he was managing approximately $120 million in client assets, but was growing disenchanted with what he saw as a U.S. stock market driven by high-frequency trading and algorithms rather than fundamentals. He started looking for other opportunities, and soon stumbled on some of the first legal medical marijuana dispensaries that had opened in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I started looking at this through a finance guy’s eyes and saw that maybe there was something going on here,” he said.
He soon discovered that dispensaries were bringing in sales of more than $4,000 per square foot, a rate higher than any U.S. retailer but Apple Inc , and more than 12 times the average $325 per square foot among all companies in the sector.
“You had places the size of Starbucks bringing in $15 million a year, which is absurd,” Peterson said.

Guy In Bear Costume Has No Problem Voting In Russian Election [HuffPo]
During Sunday’s national election, a voter in the Siberian town of Severobaykalsk ― more than 3,400 miles east of Moscow ― decided to show he was bullish on Russia by dressing up as a bear.
Russian government-controlled Sputnik News reported that the unnamed voter scared a few people with his loud roar, but that most people seemed amused.
However, there were some challenges. For one, the bear could barely fit into the voting booth, the video below shows.

Related

Opening Bell: 06.18.12

Banks Worry As Breakup Talk Revived After JPMorgan Loss (Bloomberg) “There seems to be growing interest in some type of breakup proposal,” said Sheila Bair, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The concept is expected to arise today as JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on the trading debacle. Last week he told the Senate that the losses, which carved about $23 billion from the bank’s market value, were due to a poor investing strategy coupled with management failures. Senator Sherrod Brown seized on that admission. “It appears executives and regulators simply can’t understand what is happening in all these offices at once,” the Ohio Democrat said during the June 13 hearing. “It demonstrates to me that too-big-to-fail banks are, frankly, too-big-to-manage and too-big-to-regulate.” Greece Set For Bailout Reward As EU Sees Tweaked Aid Terms (Bloomberg) Greek voters are likely to get a reward for backing pro-euro parties, with European creditors set to ease bailout terms on the debt-swamped country mired in the fifth year of recession. A first step will be when Greece’s still to-be-formed government requests modifications to the 240 billion-euro ($303 billion) rescue programs, leading to a revision of Greece’s economic-performance targets sometime before September, a European official told reporters in Brussels today. Greek Coalition Needs 'Breathing Room' From Creditors: MP (CNBC) Kyriakos Mitsotakis, an MP for New Democracy, which won most votes in Sunday’s election and was Tuesday locked in negotiations with historic rivals Pasok and the Democratic Left to form a coalition, told CNBC: “Giving a very sick patient nothing but the same medicine when this has not had the required result would be madness.” Austerity Doesn't Pay As Debt Markets Ignore Rating Cuts (Bloomberg) "I don’t think we should be slaves to the ratings agencies,” Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, told lawmakers on Feb. 29. “What we’ve seen is, the action they took recently did actually have no impact on the yield that people in the market were willing to lend to the U.K. government at.” Buying Opportunity All Over Europe, Even Greece, Says Donald Trump (CNBC) FYI: "You're getting it for nothing, you're getting the land for nothing, you're getting everything for nothing," he said. "You have to sit with it for a while, but there are a lot of great opportunities in Europe. There's no question about it. I'm actually looking at something — it's so ridiculous, it's laughable — and yet I'm thinking about doing something over there with a group that is very smart, and frankly there is an opportunity." Einhorn's Overlooked Bear Call on US Steel Pans Out (Reuters) The Greenlight Capital manager unveiled his negative critique of U.S. Steel at the Ira Sohn charitable conference on May 16, where more attention was focused on Einhorn's bearish views on industrial goods company Martin Marietta Materials and online retailer Amazon.com . Yet it's Einhorn's U.S. Steel call that has outperformed, after the closely watched hedge fund manager zeroed in on the company's poor earnings, high pension costs and the impact of China's slowing demand for iron ore. As of Monday's close, the steelmaker's stock price was down 23.1 percent since the popular conference, where top hedge fund managers reveal their best investing ideas. Meanwhile, shares of Martin Marietta have lost about 8.5 percent over the same time period and Amazon's stock is down 0.8 percent. Mark Cuban sells Facebook stake, says 'it was gambling money' (DJ) The billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner sold his stake in the social network, less than a month after initially disclosing he had built a position in the company following its bungled initial public offering. "I took my hit, my thesis was wrong," Cuban said in a CNBC interview. "I thought we'd get a quick bounce just with some excitement about the stock. I was wrong, and when you're wrong you don't wait, you just get out. I took a beating and left."...Cuban described the move as "a trade, not an investment" and compared it to trading baseball cards. "It was gambling money, to be honest with you," he said on Monday. "Any time you try to time the market, you get what you deserve. Sometimes you're right. Sometimes you're wrong. This time I was wrong." Goldman: Fed Will Ease Monetary Policy This Week (CNBC) The Federal Open Market Committee will likely say it would buy assets such as mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasurys when it meets for a two-day meeting starting Tuesday, Jan Hatzius, the investment bank’s Chief U.S. Economist said in a report on Monday. “We would be quite surprised if we saw no easing this week,” Hatzius wrote in the report. The End Of The Line For Famed Exchange (WSJ) The owner of the Bendigo Stock Exchange, which traces its roots to a time when thousands of prospectors descended on Victoria state after gold was discovered by two women washing clothes in a creek, plans to close the institution at the end of June. Mike Tyson Set For Broadway Debut (NYDN) The last time Mike Tyson was on stage at a Broadway theater, it was four years ago and he nearly wrecked what was left of his boxing career by biting Lennox Lewis on the leg during a press conference at the Hudson Theater. Now Tyson is returning to a Broadway theater to breathe life into his new career - theatrical performer. Tyson was on stage at the Longacre Theater in midtown on Monday afternoon to announce his one-man show, which will begin a limited engagement on July 31. The show, entitled "Mike Tyson-Undisputed Truth'' will be directed by Spike Lee, who also will be making his Broadway debut. "Mike has lifted himself off the canvas,” Lee said. "It's a great story and Mike tells it masterfully.”

Photo: Getty Images

Opening Bell: 6.23.16

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit; Chanos thinks SolarCity deal stinks; Mac ’n Cheetos; NASA engineer builds world’s largest nerf gun; and more.

Opening Bell: 05.24.12

Europe Plans Girds Greece Exit (WSJ) Emerging from Wednesday night's informal European Union summit, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said most leaders had backed issuing common debt, or euro-zone bonds, to help support troubled members. But Germany and others opposed them and demanded Greece do more. "We want Greece to remain in the euro zone," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after nearly eight hours of talks. "But the precondition is that Greece upholds the commitments it has made." Citi: Greek To Exit Euro, New Currency To Fall 60% (CNBC) Greece will leave the euro zone next year and the country's new currency will "immediately fall by 60 percent," according to Citi chief economist Willem Buiter. "The elections (on June 17th) will not produce a viable government that can follow the troika plan, leading to a stalemate between the Greek government and official creditors, and to the suspension of EFSF-IMF funding,” Buiter wrote in Citi's latest Global Economic Outlook. Slim Family Sees European Crisis As Good Time To Invest (Bloomberg) Carlos Slim sees Europe’s debt crisis as a “good moment” to apply his strategy of investing in times of turmoil, said the billionaire’s son, America Movil SAB Co-Chairman Carlos Slim Domit. America Movil, controlled by the elder Slim, announced a $3.4 billion bid to increase its stake in former Dutch phone monopoly Royal KPN NV earlier this month. While the acquisition would be Slim’s first major European foray, it follows a longstanding pattern, his son said. America Movil tries to stay as efficient and financially sound as possible so that it can quickly capitalize on fresh opportunities, he said. “When hard times come, you can look at opportunities in a very agile way,” Slim Domit, 45, said in an interview this week in Mexico City. “Europe is in a good moment.” After Facebook Fiasco, NYSE-Nasdaq Rivalry Heats Up (WSJ) "In the short term, if I'm deciding which platform to go with, I'd think twice at this point" before choosing Nasdaq, said Sang Lee, managing partner with Aite Group, a consultancy that researches exchanges. Investors Leery Of Paulson's Big Gold Bet (NYP) Investors are upset over Paulson’s huge gold positions — specifically, his outsize holding of AngloGold Ashanti, down 20 percent this year. That has dragged down two of Paulson’s funds. “I would be happier if he cut the gold position in half,” says one investor who put in a notice to take his money out of the fund in June. “He would have been up 4 percent in the first quarter if it weren’t for the goddamned gold.” Auction Of Ronald Reagan's Blood Stirs Debate (WSJ) Since his death in 2004 at age 93, President Ronald Reagan's popularity has only increased. Republican candidates invoke his name and policies. About 400,000 visitors a year flock to his hilltop museum outside Los Angeles, where a gift shop sells biographies, photos and his favorite jelly beans. Many people, it seems, want a piece of Mr. Reagan. But now, the sale of a very personal effect of the late president is stirring a controversy. Bidding for a vial purported to hold Mr. Reagan's blood topped $14,000 Wednesday in an online auction scheduled to end Thursday—if the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation doesn't try to block the sale first. PFC Auctions, based in the British Channel Islands, is offering the vial, said to have been obtained from a Maryland laboratory after the failed assassination attempt on Mr. Reagan in 1981. The sample was sent to the lab to test Mr. Reagan's blood for lead. A lab employee kept the vial as a memento and later passed it on to her adult child, according to the auction site. The head of the Reagan Foundation, a nonprofit group, called the sale "a craven act" and is fighting to stop it. It is uncertain what claims, if any, the foundation may have on the vial, which appears to contain dried blood residue, as depicted in a picture on the auction site...The seller, an admirer of Mr. Reagan's free-market policies, said in comments on the auction page, "I was a real fan of Reaganomics and felt that Pres. Reagan himself would rather see me sell it rather than donating it." Morgan Stanley, Others Make Profit of $100 Million Stabilizing Facebook (WSJ) These gains are expected to be offset somewhat by losses associated with reimbursing clients who lost money because of technology snafus at the Nasdaq Stock Market in Facebook's first day of trading, one of these people added. The Next Treasury Secretary (NYT) On the Democratic side, possibilities include Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock, the asset manager; Erskine Bowles, who served on President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; Daniel K. Tarullo, a member of the Federal Reserve Board; and Roger C. Altman, the investment banker. For the Republicans, the front-runners include Robert B. Zoellick, the head of the World Bank; John B. Taylor, the Stanford economist; Glenn Hubbard, the head of Columbia Business School and a Mitt Romney adviser; and Kevin Warsh, a former member of the Federal Reserve Board. Spain To Recapitalize Bankia (WSJ) The Spanish government will provide about €9 billion ($11.4 billion) to cover Bankia SA's provisioning needs, Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said Wednesday, in the latest sign that Spain's economic deterioration is forcing authorities to inject more public funds to bail out ailing banks. Since Bankia won't be able to meet provisioning and capital needs, Spain's Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring will be ready to inject capital into Bankia's unlisted parent company, Banco Financiero & de Ahorros SA, which holds the company's most toxic real-estate assets, Mr. de Guindos told legislators in Parliament. Indian State OKs Shooting Tiger Poachers On Sight (AP) A state in western India has declared war on animal poaching by allowing forest guards to shoot hunters on sight in an effort to curb rampant attacks on tigers and other wildlife. The government in Maharashtra says injuring or killing suspected poachers will no longer be considered a crime. Forest guards should not be "booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers," Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam said Tuesday. The state also will send more rangers and jeeps into the forest, and will offer secret payments to informers who give tips about poachers and animal smugglers, he said.

Opening Bell: 11.25.15

"Hedge funds stalk battered corner of bond world"; Goldman bankers join Uber; Private equity goes after Premier League; Baby Cheesus; and more.