Rogue Miners, Chinese Gangsters, and Rare Earth Elements


New Arrest in Ongoing Insider Trading Investigation(Dealbook) "Federal authorities charged Winifred Jiau of Fremont, Calif., with conspiracy and securities fraud on Wednesday — the latest arrest in the ever-widening insider trading investigation. Prosecutors say that Ms. Jiau, a 43-year-old consultant for expert-network firm Primary Global Research, leaked confidential information about Marvell Technology Group and Nvidia to two money managers at different hedge funds. Until roughly a year ago, she worked as a contractor at Nvidia, according to a Nvidia spokesman."

Treasuries Rally on Buying by Foreign Central Banks(Bloomberg) Apparently, yesterday's weak treasuries auction was only a blip--perhaps the after affect of a blizzard and a holiday hangover:

"Treasuries gained after the government’s $29 billion auction of seven-year notes produced the highest demand from a group of investors including foreign central banks since June 2009. The yield on the benchmark 10-year security dropped the most since the Labor Department’s payrolls report on June 4 as the last U.S. note sale of 2010 spurred buying. Treasuries tumbled yesterday after the $35 billion five-year auction attracted the lowest demand in six months."

Foreclosures Spike(Financial Times)"US mortgage foreclosures jumped in the third quarter as fewer borrowers qualified for loan modifications that would have reduced their monthly payments, bank regulators have said.The rise in repossessions and decline in loan modifications are further signs that problems in the US housing market are persisting, in spite of forecasts by some analysts of a recovery before the year-end.The number of homes entering foreclosure rose 31 per cent compared with the second quarter and 3.7 per cent compared with the year-earlier period, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision said."

Rogue Miners, Chinese Gangsters, and Rare Earth Elements(New York Times) With a headline like that how can you go wrong?

"Rogue operations in southern China produce an estimated half of the world’s supply of heavy rare earths, which are the most valuable kinds of rare earth metals. Heavy rare earths are increasingly vital to the global manufacture of a range of high-technology products — including iPhones, BlackBerrys, flat-panel televisions, lasers, hybrid cars and wind-power turbines, as well as a lot of military hardware. China mines 99 percent of the global supply of heavy rare earths, with legal, state-owned mines mainly accounting for the rest of China’s output. That means the Chinese government’s only effective competitors in producing these valuable commodities are the crime rings within the country’s borders. And so Beijing, intent on maintaining its global chokehold on all rare earths, has begun an energetic campaign to crush the crime syndicates that dominate the open-pit mines in this part of Guangdong Province, home to most of southern China’s mining areas for heavy rare earths."

Oil Prices Dip in Light Trading (Wall Street Journal) But will prices rise on economic data and market signals when volume returns?

"Oil futures pulled back in thin trading Wednesday, as traders await a weekly update on U.S. oil inventories, which are expected to show a decline. Light, sweet crude for February delivery settled down 37 cents, or 0.4%, at $91.12 a barrel. Brent crude on the ICE futures finished down 24 cents, or 0.3%, at $94.14 a barrel. Crude is trading within a narrow range amid thin volume due to the year-end holidays and a snow storm that has hobbled the trading center of New York. Though many analysts expect crude to head toward triple digits next year, prices have bounced between $90 and $92 a barrel this week, with many market players having closed up shop for the year."