10 things you need to know in markets today

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.

Yahoo is hanging up a “for sale” sign. Company chairman Maynard Webb writes that Yahoo is “exploring additional strategic alternatives” to the four-point growth plan the company laid out in a press release.

It comes after Yahoo announced fourth-quarter earnings that beat forecasts but disappointed with full-year estimates. In its earnings release, Yahoo said it will close 5 offices and cut 15% of its workforce by the end of 2016. That would bring its total fulltime workforce to roughly 9,000 employees, down 42% since 2012.

China’s central bank has announced further measures designed to support its housing market. Overnight the PBOC said that it will allow lenders to cut the minimum mortgage down payment for first-home buyers from 25% to 20%, taking the required level to the lowest level ever.

China National Chemical Corporation is offering to buy Swiss pesticide-and-seeds-maker Syngenta AG for more than $43 billion (£29.8 billion). Bloomberg reports that ChemChina offered $465 (£322.55) a share in cash and Syngenta’s board is recommending the deal to shareholders, according to a statement on Wednesday. The offer is about 20 per cent higher than Syngenta’s last close of 392.30 Swiss francs (£267, $385) on Feb. 2.

Asian stock markets are down. Japan’s Nikkei closed down 3.15% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is down 2.58% at the time of writing (6.35 a.m. GMT/1.35 a.m. ET). China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite is also down 0.98%.

It’s PMI day in Europe. From 8.15 a.m. GMT (3.15 a.m. ET) we’ll be getting composite and service sector growth readings for Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the UK, and the Eurozone as a whole.

The credit ratings of ten of the largest energy companies have been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s. In a release on Tuesday afternoon, the ratings service downgraded the companies including Chevron (AA- from AA), EOG Resources (BBB+ from A-), and Hess (BBB- from BBB).

European growth forecasts are coming. The European Commission is releasing its latest report on growth at 10.00 a.m. GMT (5.00 a.m. ET).

Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $62.95 million (£43.6 million) to resolve claims over the sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities to three banks that later failed, the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corp says. The settlement resolves lawsuits the US regulator filed as receiver for the three failed banks against Morgan Stanley and other defendants over what the FDIC said were misrepresentations in the offering documents for the mortgage-backed securities.

Drug companies are likely to launch seven “blockbuster” drugs in 2016, each with $1 billion-plus annual sales potential, led by new treatments for liver disease and HIV, according to a Thomson Reuters analysis. The assessment means the pharmaceuticals industry is on track for another productive year, although not as good as 2015, which saw the arrival of 11 new blockbusters.

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