Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Thursday.
The US Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at its two-day meeting. It now expects to raise rates twice this year, down from its prior projection of four times, as it continues to monitor risks the global economy poses to its outlook.
The Fed also cut its outlook for the US economy. The central bank now expects 2016 GDP to grow around 2.1% to 2.3%, down from its previous outlook of 2.3% to 2.5% growth.
The Bank of England’s latest interest rate decision is coming. The central bank is expected to leave the headline rate of 0.5% unchanged when it delivers its verdict at 12.00 p.m. GMT (8.00 a.m. ET). The bank will deliver a monetary policy update at the same time.
Asian and US stock markets ticked up on the Fed meeting. In the US, the Dow closed up 0.4%, the S&P 500 was 0.6% better, and the Nasdaq ended up 0.8%. Japan’s Nikkei bucked the trend, closing down 0.22%, but China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite is up 1.19% at the time of writing (6.25 a.m. GMT/2.25 a.m. ET) and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 0.94%.
Oil and gold also popped. US West Texas Intermediary was up as much as 6% after Fed chair Janet Yellen delivered her latest economic verdict but it settled back down and is up 1.17% at 6.30 a.m. GMT (2.30 a.m. ET). UK Brent oil is up 0.45%. Gold, meanwhile, is up 2.47%, hanging on to most of the gains made in the wake of Yellen’s speech.
European inflation figures are coming. The European Union-wide Consumer Price Index is expected to grow 0.7% on last year’s figure when data is released at 10.00 a.m. GMT (6.00 a.m. ET), while February’s figure is forecast to show 0.1% price growth on the prior month’s figure.
Asda has confirmed plans to cut up to 500 jobs in stores and 250 at its head office in Leeds as the retailer battles to protect profits while sales slide. The Guardian reports that the supermarket chain is to close staff canteens in all stores and axe some shopfloor services such as photo processing and pizza-making as part of a turnaround plan called Project Renewal.
Shareholders of JPMorgan and Citigroup will get to vote on whether the two banks should break up into smaller pieces, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The question will be included in their proxy filings, and voted on at a shareholder meeting later this year, the Journal reported. The vote was requested by Bartlett Naylor, a shareholder in both Citigroup and JPMorgan, according to the Journal.
Toshiba plans to invest 360 billion yen (£2.2 billion, $3.2 billion) to build a new semiconductor facility in Japan. The investment will take place over three years, Toshiba said in a statement on Thursday. It shows the technology company wants to grow its chip business even as it eyes the sale of other units such as appliances and healthcare.
US Overstock.com said on Wednesday it would offer shareholders new common shares to be traded on the company’s t0.com platform. t0.com is Overstock’s financial technology subsidiary and its trading platform is powered by the blockchain, bitcoin’s underlying technology.
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