Coronavirus: HSBC to speed up 35,000 job cuts as profits slump [BBC]
Europe's biggest bank reported a 65% drop in pre-tax profits to $4.3bn for the first half of the year - much steeper than analysts had forecast…. "Current tensions between China and the US inevitably create challenging situations for an organisation with HSBC's footprint.
"However, the need for a bank capable of bridging the economies of east and west is acute, and we are well placed to fulfil this role."

Wells Fargo Sold Assets to Stay Under Fed Asset Cap as Markets Lurched [WSJ]
The lender sold assets tied to financing that helps blue-chip companies, including Walmart Inc., manage their cash flow and pay their suppliers, the people said. Wells Fargo ramped up its sales of these assets more than usual in the second half of March and early April during the financial markets’ wildest days this year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, some of the people said…. Wells Fargo has narrowly stayed under the asset cap over the last two quarters, according to regulatory filings. It got a small reprieve in April, when the Fed lifted the restrictions so the bank could make loans through two federal small-business lending programs during the coronavirus crisis.

Pelosi: Democrats still at odds with GOP, White House on stimulus [UPI]
"We have been for the $600. They have a $200 proposal, which does not meet the needs of America's working families," Pelosi said, after saying that President Donald Trump is standing in the way of the stimulus package being passed.
"It's a condescension quite, frankly," she added. "Because they're saying, 'They really don't need it; they're just staying home because they make more money at $600.' So the idea that they made a proposal is really not actually factual…."
Pelosi also said she did not have faith that an agreement would be reached soon, anticipating Republicans would not support the $600 plan.

Fed's Kashkari suggests 4-6 week shutdown; says U.S. Congress can spend big on coronavirus relief [Reuters]
“If we don’t do that and we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies,” Kashkari said.
“That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us….”
Kashkari [stresses] both the high level of domestic saving and historically low interest rates…. “If we get the economy growing, we will be able to pay off the debt,” Kashkari added.

Fintech Varo Money Gets Rare Green Light to Become Bank [WSJ]
The national charter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency marks one of the first granted to a fintech company…. Fintech companies usually partner with banks to provide banking services rather than applying for their own bank charters….
Traditional banks and state regulators have largely opposed fintech companies’ applications for regulatory charters. A federal judge ruled last year that the OCC lacks authority to provide national charters designed for fintechs, but Varo wasn’t affected because it applied for a full-service bank charter.

Lord & Taylor Files for Bankruptcy as Retail Collapses Pile Up [NYT]
The chain was acquired last year by the clothing rental start-up Le Tote in an unusual $100 million deal. Now Le Tote and Lord & Taylor are both seeking Chapter 11 protection from their creditors in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia…. The chief executive of Hudson’s Bay had said that the chain was in the fraught “middle” space among retailers — neither high-end luxury nor discount apparel.

Crypto Hedge Fund Neural Capital Closes After Losing Half Its Money [CoinDesk]
The sources said the fund’s crypto-assets were liquidated in December and some cash is still being held up in escrow, months longer than expected…. It joins a horde of funds to close in 2020, shy of the three-year mark, after forming around the time of the crypto boom of 2017 — notably, Adaptive Capital, Prime Factor Capital and Tetras Capital.

Stock Splits Pay Off—on the Rare Occasions They Occur [WSJ]
Stocks in the S&P 500 tend to rise 5% in the year following share splits, including 2.5% immediately following the announcement, according to research from Nasdaq Inc. on splits between 2012 and 2018….
Shares of Apple Inc. got a big bounce after the tech giant revealed plans late Thursday to execute a 4-for-1 stock split later in August….
After the split, Apple’s influence on the Dow will shift from being the most consequential to the middle of the pack…. Had Apple split its stock at the end of last year, the Dow would be off about 10% in 2020, compared with the 7.4% decline it currently registers, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine [NYT]
After announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19… insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March…. Senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress….
Some officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have grown concerned about whether companies including Vaxart are trying to inflate their stock prices by exaggerating their roles in Warp Speed, a senior Trump administration official said. The department has relayed those concerns to the Securities and Exchange Commission….

Trump has lost the financial support of some of the billionaires who bankrolled his 2016 campaign — take a look at who's dropping out in 2020 [BI]
Not only does Trump have fewer billionaire donors overall than his opponent Joe Biden, he also lost the financial support of a handful of his 2016 donors…. Billionaire Peter Thiel, who was one of Trump's biggest backers in 2016, has not donated so far in 2020…. Investor Carl Icahn gave $200,000 to Trump before the 2016 election but hasn't donated to the president's reelection bid…. [Stephen] Feinberg gave $339,400 to a Trump Super-PAC during the 2016 election cycle, but has not donated during the current cycle, per Forbes….
The Mercer family hasn't given anything towards Trump's reelection bid and isn't expected to…. It is unknown why the Mercers withdrew their financial support from Trump, but it could have something to do with the notoriety the typically-reclusive family received after bankrolling Trump's first campaign….

Free lunch! Bosses lure bankers back where they can see them [Reuters]
As part of its return-to-work process, Goldman Sachs is offering to feed staff at the headquarters of its international business in London, where just a handful of nearby food outlets have reopened…. UBS is treating its London-based traders to Friday night drinks to boost team spirit during its gradual return to the office, another two sources said.

Related

Opening Bell: 04.04.12

Chinese Premier Blasts Banks (WSJ) In an evening broadcast on state-run China National Radio, Mr. Wen told an audience of business leaders that China's tightly controlled banking system needs to change. "Let me be frank. Our banks earn profit too easily. Why? Because a small number of large banks have a monopoly," said Mr. Wen, according to the transcript of the program on the broadcaster's website. "To break the monopoly, we must allow private capital to flow into the finance sector." Regulators Expected to Penalize JPMorgan Over Lehman Collapse (NYT) The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is expected this week to file a civil case against JPMorgan. The bank is expected to settle the Lehman matter and pay a fine of approximately $20 million...The Lehman action stems from the questionable treatment of customer money — an issue that has been at the forefront of the recent outcry over MF Global. JPMorgan was also intimately involved in the final days of that brokerage firm. The trading commission is expected to accuse JPMorgan of overextending credit to Lehman for two years leading up to its bankruptcy in 2008, the people briefed on the matter said. Fitch Ditched in Bond Dispute (WSJ) Fitch Group's new chief executive said Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX -1.61% dropped the firm's rating from a mortgage-backed security because Fitch took a harsher view than two rivals that assigned triple-A ratings to the deal. "It was an 11th-hour thing when they decided which agency it would be to publicly rate it," said Paul Taylor, who took over this week as chief executive of Fitch Group, in an interview. "We had a materially different take." Mr. Taylor said Fitch Group, which includes credit-rating firm Fitch Ratings, had been compensated for its rating on the mortgage-backed deal. Fitch shared its differing view with investors after the deal closed Friday, publishing a report critical of Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and DBRS Ltd. for issuing triple-A ratings on the residential-mortgage-backed security issued by Credit Suisse. Fed Signals No Need for More Easing Unless Growth Falters (Bloomberg) “A couple of members indicated that the initiation of additional stimulus could become necessary if the economy lost momentum or if inflation seemed likely to remain below” 2 percent, according to minutes of their March 13 meeting released today in Washington. That contrasts with the assessment at the FOMC’s January meeting in which some Fed officials saw current conditions warranting additional action “before long.” Spanish Bond Sale Fizzles (WSJ) Spain sold a total of €2.589 billion ($3.43 billion) of the 4.4% January 2015, 4.25% October 2016 and 4.85% October 2020 bonds, against its €2.5 billion to €3.5 billion target. Wednesday's sale, brought forward by one day due to a national holiday on Thursday, brought Spain's 2012 bond issuance completion to almost 46% of the €86 billion gross bond issuance target. ‘Apple Fever’ Prompts Predictions of $1 Trillion Value (Bloomberg) “Apple fever is spreading like a wildfire around the world,” Brian White, the Topeka analyst, said in a report that initiated coverage of the company with a buy recommendation. White’s new 12-month target of $1,001 is the highest among the 45 analysts tracked by Bloomberg and represents a 59 percent increase over today’s closing price. He said Apple’s market value will eventually top $1 trillion. £200,000 bar bill trader, arrested in FSA probe (CityAM) Alex Hope, the 23 year-old trader who hit the headlines after spending £125,000 on a single bottle of champagne, has been arrested on suspicion of being involved in an unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme. Hope, who claims to be a self made foreign exchange trader, became infamous when he ran up a £125,000 bar bill in one evening at a Liverpool nightclub. Most of this was spent on a single 99lb bottle of champagne...Hope's publicist last night confirmed that he had been arrested but said that he denies all allegations. His personal website describes him as “a name to watch out for in the city” and “an expert in the UK economy” who regularly "trades millions." It calls him a “talented, charismatic and thoroughly likeable man." SEC Puts Exchanges on Notice Over Computer-Driven Trades (Bloomberg) “The consequences of a big failure are so severe that the SEC should be paying close attention to these issues,” James Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown University’s business school in Washington, said in an e-mail. “No human system is perfect and eventually something will happen, so they also want policies and procedures in place for catching problems quickly and cleaning up the mess afterwards.” Ready for a rumble: Falcone vs. Icahn (NYP) Falcone, who has funneled a whopping $2.9 billion into LightSquared, is desperate to salvage his shaky investment amid a battle with federal regulators over building out the wireless network. Falcone has said both publicly and privately that bankruptcy is not an option. However, some LightSquared creditors, including Icahn, would rather put the company into bankruptcy as part of a plan that would give them equity stakes in the company and greater control over its future, sources said. The deadline for creditors to decide is fast approaching. Icahn and other owners of LightSquared’s $1.6 billion loan due 2014 have given the company until the end of April before they decide whether to put LightSquared into default for breaching some loan covenants tied to its customer contracts. ADP: 209,000 Jobs Added (WSJ) Private businesses hired at a modest rate in March close to what economists expected, according to a report released Wednesday. Private-sector jobs in the U.S. increased 209,000 last month, according to a national employment report published by payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers. The gain was just above economists' median expectation of 200,000 contained in a survey done by Dow Jones Newswires. Occupy London Hinders Burrito Sales More Than Banker Bonuses (Bloomberg) The protesters were evicted from St. Paul’s on Feb. 28 and at least one restaurant found its bookings jump back to pre- occupied levels. Sales were down 40 percent to 50 percent while the camp was at St. Paul’s, resulting in two or three staff members losing their jobs, said Pollie Hall, events manager at the Paternoster Chop House. “This isn’t the corporate fat cats they were affecting, it was average working Joes,” said Hall, who said her customers were verbally abused by protesters and she was called a “devil- worshipping mason.” A wedding scheduled at the restaurant on the first day of the protest had to be moved. Mega ‘winner’: $105M tix stashed in this McDonald's (NYP) The Baltimore woman who claims to have one of three winning Mega Millions tickets now says it’s hidden somewhere in the McDonald’s restaurant where she works. Marlinde Wilson, 37, coyly wouldn’t reveal whether she had stashed the slip of paper behind the McFlurry machine or under the all-beef patties. “I’m waiting for things to calm down so I can go back to McDonald’s and get it. The people [at McDonald’s] are too excited. I want their heads to cool down before I go back,” she said.