Here is what you need to know.
Russia and Ukraine have a temporary gas deal in place. The overnight agreement will supply Ukraine with gas for the month of March. “Under the deal sealed in Brussels, Ukraine’s Naftogaz will pre-pay and order sufficient quantities of gas to ensure all domestic consumption for March and guarantee undisrupted supplies to the EU,” the AP’s Lorne Cook notes. Russia’s ruble is stronger by 0.5% at 62.23 and Ukraine’s hryvnia is up 8.5 % at 24.25.
German retail sales surged. Today’s 2.9% month-over-month jump in sales was the best gain in seven years. The strong number is being attributed to ultra-low interest rates and the recent decline in oil prices. The euro is down 0.2% at $US1.1160 and nearing a 12-year lows.
Spanish unemployment is improving. The number of unemployed fell by 13,500 (an increase of 10,500 was forecast) as hiring in the construction sector surged. The Spanish economy added 10,091 construction jobs while the service sector gained 223 jobs. There are still 4.51 million people out of work.
Britain’s Construction PMI hit a 4-month high. The number rose to 60.1 (59.1 previous) on expectations of a downtick to 59.0. Anything above 50 signals growth, so this is good news. Britain’s pound is flat at 1.5370.
Stock markets around the globe trade lower. China’s Shanghai Composite (-2.2%) led the way lower in Asia while Spain’s IBEX (-0.3%) paces the decline in Europe. US futures are only modestly lower with Dow futures down by 15 points. The US 10-year yield is higher by 2 basis points at 2.10%.
US economic data is light. Auto sales will be released throughout the day. Analysts are looking for a slight uptick to 16.8 million from last month’s 16.7 million.
Australia’s central bank kept rates on hold. The Reserve Bank of Australia surprised by keeping its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.25% as many expected a 25 basis point cut. However, the Statement indicated, “Further easing may be appropriate over the period ahead, in order to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation consistent with the target.” The Australian dollar is up 0.5% at .7805.
Japan held a weak bond auction. The disappointing 10-year bond auction drew bids 40 basis points, up 9 basis points from the previous. Investor demand was strong with ¥2.8 chasing every ¥1 of paper. Post-auction action has the 10-year yield higher by 3 basis points at 37 basis points.
Caesar’s Entertainment posted a huge loss. The troubled gaming company lost $US7.00 per share, bleeding $US1.01 billion in the fourth quarter. The loss for 2014 amounted to $US2.77 billion. Things were so bad for the casino that it lost $US60 million in table games during the quarter.
Sharp needs cash. The electronics maker tumbled nearly 10 per cent on news it is seeking a debt-for-equity swap totaling ¥150 billion ($US1.24 billion).