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Update: The euro is getting crushed on reports that EU officials could delay the Greek bailout.Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were higher in overnight trading with the Hang Seng up 2.14 per cent. Europe is higher on China’s plans to invest more in Europe’s bailout funds, and U.S. stocks opened moderately higher.
- Eurozone GDP contracted 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter, against expectations of a 0.4 per cent contraction. This is the first contraction since 2009. German GDP fell 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, on a quarter-over-quarter basis, while the French economy grew 0.2 per cent for the same period. UBS answers – Who are the fittest countries in Europe >
- China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said China plans to invest in Europe’s bailout funds. His comments also suggested that China won’t be selling its holdings of euro assets and that it will buy European bonds to boost market confidence. The next 12 pivotal dates in Europe you can’t afford to miss >
- UK unemployment rose by 48,000 to 2.67 million in the fourth quarter. The unemployment rate came in at 8.4 per cent its highest level in 17 years. The data is expected to increase opposition claims that prime minister David Cameron has taken on too much austerity to cut the deficit. Now here’s a guide to the horrible youth unemployment mess in Europe >
- The Empire State manufacturing index for February surged to 19.53, beating expectations. Meanwhile, January industrial production was flat, but December numbers were revised up.
- In tech news, talks between Yahoo Inc and China’s Alibaba Group $17 billion asset swap have hit an impasse. This comes after ThirdPoint’s Daniel Loeb tried to install directors he had picked, on Yahoo’s board. Meanwhile, Apple has overtaken Samsung to becomes the world’s biggest smartphone vendor. Apple’s marketshare jumped to 23.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, from 15.8 per cent a year ago.
- In earnings news, Devon Energy is expected to report earnings of $1.48 per share. Deere & Co. reported Q1 net income of $1.30 per share, on revenue of $6.77 billion. Meanwhile, Comcast reported earnings of $0.47 per share, on revenue of $15.04 billion. It also said it would increase its dividend by 44 per cent and announced a $6.5 billion share repurchase program.
- French bank BNP Paribas reported a 50.6 per cent drop in quarterly net profit. France’s largest bank by assets was hit by €567 million in new Greek write-downs. The bank reported fourth quarter net profit of €765 million, on revenue of €9.69 billion.
- FOMC minutes are due at 2 PM ET, now that it has changed the transparency of its operations. The statement could boost the dollar if the minutes show the Fed reining in talks of more quantitative easing. Now here’s the presentation where Jeff Gundlach compares the U.S. to the Roman empire >
- The housing market index for February will be released at 10 AM ET. Consensus is for a rise in the housing market index to 26. Follow the release at Money Game >
- BONUS – Naomi Watts will play Princess Diana in the upcoming movie Caught In Flight, and Watts is looking for Prince William and Harry’s blessings for the part.
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