10 things you need to know before the opening bell

LightmobileReuters/Arnd WiegmannTwo men check out a ‘Lightmobile’ at the International Motor Show in Geneva.

Good morning. Here is what you need to know.

The Reserve Bank of India announced a surprise rate cut. India’s central bank lowered its repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.50%. The move marks the second rate cut of 2015, and comes as the RBI warns the rupee is too strong. Post-rate cut action has the rupee down 0.6% at 62.26 per dollar.

China lowers rates for commercial lenders. The People’s Bank of China cut its overnight lending rate 50 basis points to 4.50% and its seven-day rate 150 basis points to 5.50%. The rate cut is designed to provide further relief to what appears to be a slowing Chinese economy. China’s yuan was little changed at 6.2710 per dollar and remains near levels last seen in October 2012.

China’s services sector is improving. HSBC Services PMI ticked up to 52.0 (51.8 previous), recovering a portion of February’s drop. Analysts warn today’s number cannot be looked at too closely because of the timing of the Chinese New Year.

Australia’s GDP fell short. Australia’s GDP grew 0.5% quarter-over-quarter, missing the 0.7% growth that analysts were expecting. Annually, the Australian economy posted a 2.5% advance, which made for a downtick from the prior reading of 2.7%. Interestingly, the mining sector was flat. The Australian dollar is up 0.2% at .7835.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen lashed out against big banks. Speaking last night at the Citizens Budget Commission’s Annual Awards Dinner, in New York, Chair Yellen suggested, “There may be pervasive shortcomings in the values of large financial firms that might undermine their safety and soundness.”

Investors continue to pull their money from PIMCO. Investors redeemed $US8.6 billion from the PIMCO Total Return Fund in January, marking a 22nd straight month of outflows. The fund was formerly run by co-founder Bill Gross, who left for Janus in September.

Euro zone retail sales surged. Retail sales jumped 1.1% in January, posting their fourth straight month of gains. Meanwhile, Services PMI numbers from region were mixed. France was a notable standout as its reading surged to a 42-month high of 52.2 to regain the expansion line. The euro is down 0.4% at 1.1130 and near a 12-year low.

Britain’s Services PMI missed estimates. Today’s reading slipped to 56.7 (57.2 previous) as higher input costs and wages put a squeeze on companies. Britain’s pound is little changed near 1.5345.

Global stocks are mixed. A mixed session in Asia saw China’s Shanghai Composite lead (+0.5%) and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (-1%) lag. In Europe, Spain’s IBEX (-0.5%) paces the decline.

US economic data is light. ADP Employment Change is due out at 8:15 a.m. ET and crude oil inventories will cross the wires at 10:30 a.m. ET. The U.S. Dollar Index is higher by 0.3% at 95.70 and trading at levels last seen in September 2003.

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