Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.
The EU has raised its opening demand for Britain’s Brexit
bill to an upfront gross payment of up to €100bn. According to an analysis by the Financial Times, the Brussels has bumped up its payment demands from an earlier €60 billion, and wants to make the UK give post-Brexit farm payments and EU administration fees in 2019 and 2020
Apple’s iPhone sales cooled in the first three months of the year, sending its stock slipping 2% in after hours trading on Tuesday as investors weighed the significance of the slowdown. Although Apple’s fiscal Q2 earnings per share beat Wall Street estimates, revenue missed Wall Street expectations. And Apple’s revenue forecast for the current quarter, which calls for $US44.5 billion at the midpoint of Apple’s projected range, was about $US1 billion short of Wall Street estimates.
Apple also announced a hefty, $US50 billion, four-quarter expansion of its plan to return capital to shareholders, helping to mitigate investor disappointment to weaker-than-expected revenue results in its most recent quarter. The bulk of the plan is an additional $US35 billion in stock buybacks, bringing the company’s total share repurchase plan to $US210 billion. Apple also said its board has approved a 10.5% increase in the company’s quarterly dividend. Overall, Apple said it plans to spend $US300 billion by March 2019.
French banking giant BNP Paribas beat first quarter forecasts
on both the top and bottom line after a good performance from its investment banking division. The bank recorded first quarter net profit at €1.89 billion, much better than analyst forecasts, while revenues were €11.3 billion.
On Tuesday, North Korea accused the United States of pushing the Korean peninsula to “the brink of nuclear war” with the latest move by the US of performing military drills with a pair of bombers along with the South Korean and Japanese Air Forces in a show of strength. The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made the accusations after the two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers were deployed Monday night.
Crude oil prices bounced back on Wednesday as a decline in U.S. inventories underpinned the market, although a dip in compliance with OPEC efforts to reduce output capped gains. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 37 cents, or 0.76% to $US48.02 a barrel by 6.50 a.m. BST (1.50 a.m. ET). On Tuesday, the market slid 2.4 per cent to its lowest close since March 21.
The US Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jay Clayton, the Wall Street attorney chosen by President Donald Trump to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. The vote was 61-37 to give Claytonthe job of running the independent agency that oversees Wall Street and the financial markets. Ten Democrats joined 51 Republicans in backing the nominee.
France’s presidential rivals, centrist Emmanuel Macron and the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, go head-to-head on Wednesday in a televised debate in which sparks are sure to fly as they fight their corner in a last encounter before Sunday’s runoff vote. Opinion polls still show Macron, 39, holding a strong lead of 20 points over the National Front’s Le Pen with just four days to go to the final vote, in what is widely seen as France’s most important election in decades.
The UK’s manufacturing sector is moving at “such a pace that suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand,” according to the latest PMI survey from IHS Markit. IHS Markit’s PMI survey for April, a measure of growth in the sector, hit a level of 57.3, bouncing back from a poor March, and hitting its highest level in three years.
Eurozone manufacturing expanded at its fastest pace since 2011. Markit eurozone Manufacturing PMI printed 56.7 in April as output, new orders, and employment all grew at their fastest pace in six years.
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