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Reports US

US stock market daily report (April 17, 2013, Wednesday)

April 18, 2013, Thursday, 04:08 GMT | 00:08 EST | 08:38 IST | 11:08 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders

The drop in gold has cost the world’s central banks nearly $560 billion from the value of the gold reserves. The 17% drop in gold since the beginning of 2013 is about a $1.4 billion loss on paper.

Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson - worth $11.2 billion and ranked number 91 on Forbes billionaire list - reportedly an individual who has made the most on gold, is expected to be the individual who lost the most in gold as well. Nearly 85% of his personal capital in the firm Paulson & Co is linked to gold. Of the nearly $18 billion managed by his hedge funds, Paulson controls a little over half, per those close to the firm. Paulson & Co has allowed clients to denominate holdings in gold, rather than U.S. dollars, since 2009. Estimated losses on gold so far this year by Paulson, nearly $1.5 billion. Reports out indicate during the gold tumble in recent days, he lost $1 billion. The smallest, dedicated gold fund at Paulson's firm, takes leveraged gold bets and is largely controlled by Paulson. The fund lost 28% during Q1 2013 as a result of the 5% drop in the price of gold. Paulson owns a portfolio of mining stocks worth $1.1 billion. His biggest position is reportedly in AngloGold Ashanti, which has fallen nearly 35%, year to date.

Secret Service intercepted a suspicious letter addressed to President Barack Obama at an off-site facility away from the White House, on Tuesday. An FBI statement later revealed the letter tested positive for the substance ricin. A similar letter was found Tuesday in the Senate mailroom and it too, tested positive for ricin. Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. Ricin works by getting inside the cells of a human body and preventing the cells from making the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and death may occur.

Carnival Corp. (CCL) announced Wednesday an investment of $300 million to improve the fire, operating and power capability of its namesake fleet. Carnivals full fleet is already undergoing an operational review after the deadly grounding of the Costa Concordia ship in 2012. Holding title as the world's biggest cruise operator, Carnival operates a 101-ship fleet across brands such as its namesake line, Costa and Princess. Part of improvements to the ships include additional, permanent electricity backup to improve guest services if ships lose main power, such as expanded cooking and food storage facilities as well as internet and telephone connectivity. Over the next several months Carnival will install additional emergency generators on all 24 vessels in its fleet which will provide complete power to cabin and public toilets, fresh water systems and elevators. The overall enhancement program is expected to cost between $600 million and $700 million. "Although every ship in our fleet currently has emergency back-up power which is designed to enable the continuous operation of safety equipment and some hotel services, it is our intent to significantly bolster that back-up power to support the core hotel services," said Gerry Cahill, chief executive of the Carnival Cruise Lines brand. Carnival said they will upgrade fire systems, such as improving water-mist systems to have larger and thicker droplet spray. The Cruise line reported they will form a board of five outside experts to review and advise on safety as well as, reliability. Fires on Carnival cruise ships occurred twice in recent years, stranding ships and passengers off the coast of Mexico. The Triumph vessel has experienced most recent incident and has received a wave of negative publicity, including reports that passengers had to endure uncomfortably hot cabins, unappetizing and scarce provisions and little access to functioning restrooms. Carnival's track record of serious events at sea as well as its low tax rate despite assistance provided by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy during some of those events has been criticized by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat of West Virginia. Carnival said it would reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of aiding its two stranded vessels.

Federal Reserve Beige Book released on Wednesday shows the U.S. economy is growing at a "moderate" pace, as the rebound in housing and the continued recovery in the auto sector offset weaknesses stemming from federal government budget cuts, the expiration of the payroll tax cut and winter weather. The Beige Book covers the period from late February to early April and is slightly stronger in tone than prior report. Of the Fed's 12 districts, five reported "moderate" growth, five reported "modest" growth while New York and Dallas reported slight accelerations.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) reported Q1 profit of $2.62 billion on Wednesday and a 5.5% increase in revenue. BofA slashed $1 billion in costs and cut nearly 6,000 jobs. During the quarter, BofA reported improved brokerage income, higher investment banking fees and improved credit quality. On the downside, BofA reported lower mortgage-banking income as well as, lower net gains on the sales of debt securities. Despite a 56% increase in mortgage lending, net interest income rose to just $10.8 billion compared to $10.5 billion in 2012. Of those new mortgages, 91% were refinanced loans. The banks provision for credit losses declined to $335 million from $485 million in the bank’s consumer and real-estate-services division. For the period, BofA spent $881 million on lawsuits, lawyers and settlements.

Google Inc. (GOOG) reported on Wednesday they are investigating the cause of a service outage that made several online apps, including Gmail, drive storage, documents, spreadsheets and presentations software unavailable to some users Wednesday morning. The service disruption affected "less than 0.007% of the Google Mail user base."