Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Thursday.
Brent oil futures are above $50 (£33.97) a barrel for the first time in nearly seven months. Brent is up 0.70% at $50.09 (£34.03) at the time of writing (6.21 a.m. BST/1.21 a.m.) and US West Texas Intermediate is up 0.63% at $49.87 (£33.88). US Department of Energy figures out yesterday showed a 4.2 million barrel decline in supply, the steepest weekly drop in 7 weeks.
The People’s Bank of China fixed the Chinese yuan to its lowest level since March 2011. The PBoC set the midpoint of its yuan fix at 6.5468 per dollar, down 0.34% from Tuesday. This decision comes as the central bank looks to soften the blow of a potential Fed interest-rate hike. Members of the FOMC have hinted that the hike could come as early as June 15.
Chinese stocks are down as a result of the fix. The benchmark Shanghai Composite is down 0.9% at the time of writing (6.30 a.m./1.30 a.m.) and the Hong Kong Hang Seng is down 0.24%. In Japan, the Nikkei is up 0.41%. US stock markets rallied overnight.
UK GDP figures are coming. Preliminary first-quarter growth figures will be delivered at 9.30 a.m. BST (4.30 a.m. ET), with economists expecting 0.4% growth on last quarter and 2.1% growth compared to the first quarter of last year. Both growth forecasts are unchanged from the previous quarter’s statistics.
European Union officials and diplomats launched a round of confidential discussions this week to prepare a coordinated response to a possible British vote to leave the bloc next month, EU sources told Reuters on Wednesday. Senior diplomats from founding powers Germany and France, as well as several other countries, met on Monday for talks chaired by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, several sources said.
AT&T has made a bid for Yahoo’s core internet business, Bloomberg reports, citing “people familiar with the matter.” The company had initially decided against bidding in April but has since changed its mind, according to Bloomberg. This development puts AT&T into competition with Verizon, which is considered one of the likely parties to buy Yahoo’s core business.
Dominic Chappell’s £1 takeover of BHS last year was a “bit of a punt” and part of a “very ambitious” wider plan to takeover a string of other retailers, according to a City of London financier who helped drum up backing for the deal. Chappell, a former racing driver who has twice been bankrupt and had no retail experience, bought the loss-making retailer for the nominal £1 fee last year. It collapsed into administration last month, putting 11,000 jobs at risk.
Corrosion-resistant steel from China will face final US antidumping and anti-subsidy duties of up to 450% under the US Commerce Department’s latest clampdown on a glut of steel imports, the agency said on Wednesday. The department also issued anti-dumping duties of 3% to 92% on producers of corrosion-resistant steel in Italy, India, South Korea and Taiwan, it said in a statement.
HP, which houses the former Hewlett-Packard’s legacy hardware business, reported an 11% drop in quarterly revenue as it struggles with weak demand for personal computers and printers. HP’s earnings from continuing operations fell to $660 million (£448.3 million), or 38 cents per share, in the second quarter ended April 30, from $733 million (£497.9 million), or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.
The US Comptroller of the Currency fined Wells Fargo Bank $70 million (£47.5 million) on Wednesday over mortgage servicing but said it was ending business restrictions it had placed on the bank. According to the regulator, Wells Fargo made escrow calculation errors between March 2013 and October 2014 that in some cases led to incorrect loan modification denials and “constituted unsafe or unsound banking practices.”
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