Ahead the market open on Monday, here is what you need to know to before the opening.
China’s trade surplus cratered. China’s trade surplus narrowed to $US3.08 billion in March, down sharply from the $US60.6 billion surplus in February. Exports tumbled 15% year-over-year while imports fell 12.7%. Interestingly, the data was reported in yuan instead of US dollars as Chinese regulators said it was not yet available in dollar terms. Australia’s dollar was hit hard on the news, down 1.4% at .7572.
There were nearly 1 million Apple Watch pre-orders in the US on the first day. Slice Intelligence estimates sales of 957,000 Apple Watch on opening day with shoppers spending an average of $US503.83 per watch. According to Slice Intelligence, “The most popular type of case is the Space Grey aluminium case, with 40 per cent of Apple Watch buyers choosing the option.”
A number of eurozone officials have voiced displeasure with Greece’s negotiating tactics. Unnamed officials accused Greek negotiators with acting “like a taxi driver” by continuing to ask for money instead of presenting the list of reforms necessary to receive its cash infusion. Greek markets are closed today for Easter Monday.
The World Bank warned of ‘significant’ risks for Asian economies. The World Bank lowered its growth forecast for the developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region to 6.7% in 2015, down slightly from the 6.9% growth in 2014. Chinese growth is expected to slow to 7.1% in 2015 (7.4% in 2014), according to the organisation.
The latest Bank of Japan minutes showed confidence the central bank’s QE program is working. The minutes of the March 16-17 policy meeting suggested the Japanese economy remains on track to reach its 2% inflation target, but the weakness in oil prices may briefly push inflation into negative territory. Some members expressed concern of unintended consequences from the bond-buying program, with one member suggested a financial bubble could form. Japan’s yen is lower by 0.4% at 120.66 per dollar.
Spotify is trying to raise cash that would value the company at $US8 billion. The streaming music platform is in talks to raise $US400 million, which would put an $US8.4 billion valuation on the company. Goldman Sachs and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund are said to be investors at the valuation.
Hyundai is the preferred mass-market auto brand in China. A state-backed survey showed South Korean automaker Hyundai is the most preferred brand in China. Other notable results showed BYD as the preferred Chinese automaker and Audi as the top luxury brand.
The US Dollar Index is flirting with 100.00 for the first time since March. The Index is being supported by notable weakness in the Australian dollar (-1.4%) and euro (-0.7%). Currently, the Index is higher by 0.6% at 99.93 with a move above 100.39 making for the best print in 12 years.
Global stock markets are bid. China’s Shanghai Composite (+2.2%) led Asian markets higher while Spain’s IBEX (+0.6%) paces the advance in Europe.
US economic data is light. The federal budget is due out at 2 p.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 3 basis points at 1.98%.