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Opening Bell: 2.1.18

Opening Bell: 2.1.18

Yellen era ends with Fed set for March rate rise [WSJ]
The Federal Open Market Committee held its target range for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1.25 to 1.5 per cent, as widely expected, while giving an upbeat assessment of the economy’s recent performance and stressing “further” rate rises lie ahead.
The committee upgraded its near-term outlook for inflation, saying it expected year-on-year readings to “move up this year” before stabilising around its 2 per cent goal in the medium term. Expectations for inflation in financial markets have risen in recent months, even if they remain low, the central bank said.

Facebook Aims to Soothe Wall Street Over News Feed Changes [NYT]
On Wednesday, Facebook sought to soothe Wall Street’s worries over those questions. No, people will not spend as much time on the site, the company said as it reported quarterly financial results. But don’t worry, Facebook added, because the changes will ultimately benefit its business.
With the adjustments to what it shows on its site, “I believe that the time spent on Facebook will be more valuable,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts. “If people interact more, it should lead to stronger community. When you care about something, you’re willing to see ads to experience it.”

Bitcoin Sinks Below $10k Following $133 Billion January Loss [CoinDesk]
The downward move follows a month for bitcoin when its market capitalization has tumbled from a high of $296 billion on Jan. 5 to $163 billion today – a $133 billion loss.
Having failed to hold above the $10,000 mark for the third time in last 48 hours, prices on CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) dropped to $9,480. The BPI was last seen this low on Jan. 17, when prices fell to $9,199.59.
On a 24-hour basis, bitcoin (BTC) is down 6.16 percent, according to data source CoinMarketCap. Further, the price action in the last 48 hours has established the former support zone of $10,000–$10,313 (50 percent Fibonacci retracement of 2017 low–high) as a strong resistance.

EU cannot guarantee Britain’s rights vs. third states after Brexit [Reuters]
The European Union cannot guarantee third countries will grant Britain the same benefits it currently enjoys from trade pacts and other agreements during the 21-month transition period after it quits the bloc.
Diplomats in Brussels said the EU would still expect Britain to be bound by such deals during the transition, from March 30, 2019 until the end of 2020.
“But we can’t guarantee that some third country, for political or other reasons, wouldn’t want to bug the UK and argue that it is out of the EU and perhaps shouldn’t have the benefits from an agreement during transition,” one diplomat said.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company sells all of its flamethrowers in less than a week [CNBC]
By Monday, the company had sold $3.5 million worth of flamethrowers. Musk’s idea to start selling them followed The Boring Company’s unusually successful run selling hats. He said last month that, if the company sold 50,000 hats, it would start selling flamethrowers.
The Boring Company’s new product officially sold out Thursday, Musk said on Twitter. That means Musk’s infrastructure firm has now sold $10 million worth of the devices.

Ex-Morgan Stanley advisers used clients’ cash to fund wind farm project: feds [NYPost]
Federal prosecutors in Boston said James Polese, 51, and Cornelius Peterson, 28, without permission used $500,000 from the accounts of two clients to invest in and support the wind farm project.
Prosecutors said Peterson was personally involved in the project and Polese was an investor but that it needed additional funding. It was also not an investment opportunity that Morgan Stanley authorized for clients, prosecutors said.

High-Interest Lenders Benefit From Trump’s Deregulatory Stance [WSJ]
Under its new Trump-appointed leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently called off a four-year investigation into World Acceptance Corp., a South Carolina-based lender that targets subprime borrowers with short-term, small-dollar loans carrying annual interest rates of as much as 100%.
The company’s shares have nearly tripled since President Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016. Other high-interest lenders, including Enova International Inc. and EZCorp Inc., have also seen their stocks jump.

A college kid invented a bathroom shelf for your beer—now he sells $2 million worth a year [CNBC]
He noticed every other guy in the bathroom was also trying to balance a beer on the urinal, on the floor, in a pocket or holding it between his teeth.
“I walk out, and I see a line by the bathroom,” he says. “Everyone in line is carrying beer, the women are carrying purses walking in, and I’m like, ‘This is crazy. Why isn’t there a functional piece in the bathroom?’”
Williams imagined a simple shelf next to toilets or urinals that could hold a beer, phone or pocketbook.

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