Opening Bell: 03.17.11

Posted on 17 March 2011

Opening Bell: 03.17.11

BofA, Citi, UBS In LIBOR Probe (WSJ)
The investigation has been underway for at least a year. Last fall, regulators sent formal requests for information to the 16 banks that at the time were on the so-called Libor panel. The panel last month expanded the investigation to include 20 banks. More recently, the SEC has sent subpoenas to several banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup and UBS, the people said. The agency also has summoned officials from those three banks to testify to investigators as part of the probe. It isn’t clear how many other banks have received subpoenas or been asked to testify.

BoJ Injects Another 5 Trillion ($61 Billion) Yen To Calm The Market (Reuters)
That came on top of a total of 28 trillion yen already offered in same-day operations this week in the aftermath of last Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Japan Churns Through ‘Heroic’ Workers Hitting Radiation Limits (Bloomberg)
More workers were drafted for the frontline of Japan’s biggest nuclear disaster as radiation limits forced Tokyo Electric Power Co. to replace members of its original team trying to avert a nuclear meltdown. The utility increased its workforce at the Fukushima Dai- Ichi plant to 322 today from 180 yesterday as it tried to douse water over exposed nuclear fuel rods to prevent melting and leaking lethal radiation. Levels beside the exposed rods would deliver a fatal dose in 16 seconds, said David Lochbaum, a nuclear physicist for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety instructor.

Groupon Is Said To Discuss IPO Valuation Of Up To $25 Billion (Bloomberg)
The two-year-old startup’s IPO may happen this year and is unlikely to assign Groupon a valuation of less than $15 billion, according to people.

U.S. Plans Japan Airlift as Authorities Battle Reactor Leaks (Bloomberg)
The U.S. plans to airlift citizens from Japan along with military and diplomatic families, reflecting widening skepticism that the authorities can contain leaks from the quake-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. The U.S., U.K. and Australia raised their alert levels, telling nationals to keep at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) away from the Dai-Ichi facility. Blackstone Group LP and BNP Paribas SA were among companies that shifted operations from Tokyo, which lies about 135 miles to the south.

Inflation Keeps Edging Up; Jobless Claims Take Dip (Reuters)
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell as expected last week, with the four-week moving average dropping to its lowest level in more than 2-1/2 years, pointing to a strengthening labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 387,000. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 401,000 from the previously reported 397,000.

The Snooze Moment In The Galleon Trial (Dealbook)
At about 12:18 p.m., Juror No. 18, an alternate, started the patented juror head-bob as he began to doze off during a slow part of the testimony. Within minutes, he was in a full-on midday snooze.

Diet Coke Beats Pepsi (WSJ)
U.S. sales of Diet Coke overtook those of Pepsi-Cola for the first time in 2010, making the diet soda the No. 2 carbonated soft drink in the country behind Coca-Cola, industry data are expected to confirm Thursday. Occupying the top two rankings would mark a historic win for Coca-Cola Co. in its decades-old rivalry with PepsiCo Inc., which has seen its market share slip in recent years and is trying to retool its marketing.

FDIC’s Tab For Failed Banks Nears $8 Billion (WSJ)
As of Jan. 31, the latest month for which figures are available, the FDIC has paid out $8.89 billion to banks under the loss-share agreements. Such deals are in place at 236 financial institutions, with the FDIC agreeing to assume most future losses on $160 billion of assets.

Japan Uses Helicopters, Water Cannons, Troops to Quell Meltdown (Bloomberg)
Helicopters doused 30 metric tons of water on pools used to cool spent fuel rods. No change in radiation was reported after four bombing runs by the aircraft, Kyodo News said citing plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. A plan to have police shoot a high-pressure stream of water at the reactor structure was called off tonight. Tokyo Electric has connected a power cable to the plant, Kyodo reported. “We are still reviewing the result of water spraying by helicopters,” said Akiteru Kobayashi, head of nuclear facility management.

Berlusconi: I’m Too Old For Sex With 33 Women (AP)
“Even though I am a little mischievous … 33 girls in two months seems like too much even for a 30 year old,” the premier said in an interview published Wednesday in La Repubblica, a leftist newspaper that has led a campaign for his resignation in the wake of the scandal. “It’s too much for anybody,” Berlusconi is quoted as saying. He insisted he has a girlfriend, whose identity is secret, who was always with him and would not have allowed what the prosecutors allege. “She would have ripped my eyes out,” he said.



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

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