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After Stock Market’s Worst Start in 50 Years, Some See More Pain Ahead [NYT]
The stock market is on track for its worst first six months of the year since at least 1970. The S&P 500 index, the cornerstone of many stock portfolios and retirement accounts, peaked in early January and has fallen 19.9 percent over the past six months…. “In general, expectations remain very high,” [Interactive Brokers chief strategist Steve Sosnick] said. That’s either a sign that conditions may not be as bad as some fear, or that they are set to disappoint. Analysts’ forecasts for profits at companies like Apple and JPMorgan Chase have remained relatively stable over the past month….
“When markets are more volatile, emotions rise,” [Merrill Lynch Wealth Management president Andy] Sieg said. “That’s just a normal human reaction to the kind of environment that we’re living in.”

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge hints at moderation in May. [NYT]
After stripping out food and fuel prices, which can be volatile, the [Personal Consumption Expenditures] measure climbed by 4.7 percent over the past year, down slightly from 4.9 percent in the prior reading. On a monthly basis, that core measure picked up by 0.3 percent compared with the prior month, roughly matching the previous few months. Central bankers are closely watching that core monthly pace to try to get a handle on where underlying inflation pressures are headed.

Spirit calls off vote on Frontier bid as talks with JetBlue continue. [NYT]
The postponement, until July 8, was a stunning turn in a battle that analysts say could reshape the airline sector. The decision is a blow to the leaders of Frontier and Spirit, budget carriers that want to combine so they can more effectively compete with the nation’s four dominant airlines…. JetBlue’s chief executive, Robin Hayes, celebrated the postponement, the second time that Spirit has pushed off a shareholder vote on the transaction. “It’s clear that Spirit shareholders have now handed the Spirit board an undeniable mandate to reach an agreement with JetBlue,” Mr. Hayes said in a statement.

Justice Department Sues to Block Merger of National-Security Contractors [WSJ]
The Justice Department said the tie-up would hurt the National Security Agency, which is scheduled to award a multiyear contract that Booz Allen and EverWatch were the only firms competing to win. Booz Allen moved to buy EverWatch in March, just months before the NSA was scheduled to start the selection process, according to the Justice Department…. EverWatch is a portfolio company of Enlightenment Capital, a private-equity firm that buys middle-market companies in the aerospace, defense, and technology sectors. The deal was valued at $440 million, according to securities filings, and was expected to close in 2023.

Big Pharma Won’t Bail Out Battered Biotech [WSJ]
Many of the companies now trading below cash are likely to go out of business in a macroeconomic environment in which their key input cost—money—is rising. To an even greater degree than high-growth tech companies such as Shopify or Roblox, biotech struggles in a rising interest-rate environment because many companies don’t have any real revenue streams and don’t expect to have a product in the market for years…. When will the bleeding stop? For Les Funtleyder, a healthcare investor at E Squared Capital Management, the sector as a whole can’t really begin to rebound until it is clear that the Federal Reserve is finished raising rates.

Finance Chiefs Weigh Costs and Benefits of Stock Splits [WSJ]
Companies often have their own reasons for splitting shares that can be tricky for outside observers to identify, said Alon Kalay, assistant professor of accounting at Michigan State University. By moving forward with a stock split, executives can signal confidence that strong prior earnings growth will continue, Mr. Kalay said. The decision might involve a company’s own preference for where it wants its shares to trade, he said.

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Apple To Announce Plans For Cash Hoard (WSJ) Apple will outline what it plans to do with a growing pile of cash by next month, according to Howard Ward, chief investment officer at Gamco Investors Inc. Apple, which has been grappling with investor criticism over the handling of its $137.1 billion in cash and investments, will add $42 billion in earnings to that sum in 2013, Ward said. Greenlight Capital Inc.’s David Einhorn has been urging Cupertino, California-based Apple to issue high-yielding preferred shares to spread the funds among investors. Investors are also urging Apple to consider a higher dividend payout. “We’re going to get an announcement from the company as to how they intend to reallocate some of their cash,” Ward said in an interview today on Bloomberg Radio’s “Surveillance” with Tom Keene. “They will put a floor under their stock at a higher price than it is today.” AIG shareholders win class-action status in lawsuit versus U.S. (Reuters) Two groups of American International Group shareholders won class-action status from a federal judge on Monday in a $25 billion lawsuit by former Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg over alleged losses caused by the U.S. government's bailout of the insurer. U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler also appointed Greenberg's lawyer, David Boies, of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, as lead counsel for the classes. Greenberg's Starr International Co, once AIG's largest shareholder with a 12 percent stake, sued the United States in 2011 over what eventually became a $182.3 billion bailout for the New York-based insurer. It said that by taking a 79.9 percent AIG stake and then conducting a reverse stock split without letting existing shareholders vote, the government conducted an illegal taking that violated the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Citing Boies' estimate that "tens of thousands" of shareholders might be affected, Wheeler said "class certification is by far the most efficient method of adjudicating these claims." Both Sides Of SEC Nominee Face Heat (WSJ) In one version, Ms. White is a no-holds-barred crime fighter known for stretching the law to jail mob bosses and international terrorists. In another, Ms. White is a friend of Wall Street who worked for the past decade for the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she represented giant banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase. Blackstone: We're Betting Big On Residential Real Estate (CNBC) "Blackstone is now the largest owner of individual houses in the United States," Schwarzman told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Monday, pointing to his company's $3 billion portfolio of residential real estate. But given the nascent recovery in the housing market, they're not buying and selling them quickly but rather renting them out. "It's a good business for us. It's a new thing, but it's also good for America," he said. Icahn Gets Confidential Look At Feds Books (Reuters) Dell Inc has agreed to give Carl Icahn a closer look at its books, less than a week after the activist investor joined a growing chorus of opposition to founder Michael Dell's plan to take the world's No. 3 personal computer maker private...A source with knowledge of the situation said Icahn's and Dell's confidentiality agreement does not have a contractual "standstill" obligation - meaning he is not obligated to stop trading stock in the company. But the activist investor would not be able to trade the stock while he is privy to non-public information in any case, the source added. Phoenix society gives gator happier life with prosthesis (AZC) The alligator is Mr. Stubbs, who is part science project, part human endeavor, and much more. He’s also half-gator, half-rubber. The 11-year-old crocodilian now sports a 3-foot-long prosthetic tail, attached firmly with nylon straps. It replaces the original, which was bitten off more than eight years ago. As far as anyone at the Phoenix Herpetological Society knows, Mr. Stubbs is the first alligator to tolerate, if not sport, a prosthesis. It will take months, however, before Mr. Stubbs learns how to properly use the tail. For now, handlers are happy with smaller milestones. “The fact he doesn’t try to bite it (the tail) is a good sign,” said Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society. “Learning how to use it is going to take a lot of training.” The months-long project was overseen by someone well-versed in anatomy. Marc Jacofsky is executive vice president of research and development at the CORE Institute in Phoenix, which specializes in orthopedic care — for humans. While visiting the Herpetological Society, Jacofsky was asked if it would be possible to make an artificial tail for Mr. Stubbs. “I looked and saw there was enough there that we could probably do something that wouldn’t involve surgery,” Jacofsky said. “I also liked the idea because it would improve his life. Our motto at the CORE Institute is ‘Keep life in motion,’ and this certainly fit in with that. I was on board.” Jacofsky estimated the project has cost the Core Institute about $6,000 in donated labor and materials. Mr. Stubbs had been a project since shortly after arriving at the center in May 2005. The then-3-year-old gator was one of 32 confiscated from the back of a truck pulled over near Casa Grande, Johnson said. Officers called in the Arizona Game and Fish Department as soon as the cargo made its presence known. “Scared the heck out of the officer,” Johnson said. “No one expects to find alligators when you look into the back of a truck.” Greece Faces 150,000 Job-Cut Hurdle to Aid Payment (Bloomberg) Greece is locked in talks with international creditors in Athens about shrinking the government workforce by enough to keep bailout payments flowing. Identifying redundant positions and putting in place a system that will lead to mandatory exits for about 150,000 civil servants by 2015 is a so-called milestone that will determine whether the country gets a 2.8 billion-euro ($3.6 billion) aid instalment due this month. More than a week of talks on that has so far failed to clinch an agreement. Failed Sale Of Gleacher Is A Warning For Directors (WSJ) The Dell drama is still unfolding, but for a cautionary tale of how boards, even when they may be well-intentioned, can harm investors of a takeover target, take Gleacher. Shares in the small investment bank have lost more than 60% in the past year as the prospects for a deal evaporated, business dwindled and star traders left. Ironically for a firm that bears the name of Eric Gleacher, who made his name advising on big deals in the 1980s, the company failed to sell itself. At least as some critics see it, its independent directors are to blame. SEC Says Illinois Hid Pension Troubles (WSJ) For years, Illinois officials misled investors and shortchanged the state pension system, leaving future generations of taxpayers to foot the bill, U.S. securities regulators allege. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged Illinois with securities fraud, marking only the second time the agency has filed civil-fraud charges against a state. Bernanke Provokes Mystery Over Fed Stimulus Exit (Bloomberg) When Ben S. Bernanke asserted last month that the Federal Reserve doesn’t ever have to sell assets, he raised questions about how the central bank can withdraw its record monetary stimulus without stoking inflation. The Fed may decide to hold the bonds on its balance sheet to maturity as part of a review of the exit strategy Bernanke expects will be done “sometime soon,” he told lawmakers in Washington on Feb. 27. This would help address concerns that dumping assets on the market will lead to a rapid rise in borrowing costs. It also allows the Fed to avoid realizing losses on its bond holdings as interest rates climb. Man shot in buttocks at Calle Ocho Festival unaware he was wounded (Miami Herald) The shooting occurred around 4:30 p.m. as the man walked along Southwest Eighth Street and 11th Avenue, part of the throng of revelers who gather annually at the street festival in Little Havana. It’s unclear if something sparked the violence between the two men, or if the shooting was unprovoked. At first the victim did not realize he had been shot and kept strolling along the festival route. “He discovered later that he was bleeding and then passed out,” said Miami police spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz. The victim, who was hit in the left buttocks, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he is in stable condition and expected to recover.