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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were up in overnight trading with the Nikkei rising 1.84%. Europe is lower as Greek debt swap talks enter the third day of negotiations, and U.S. futures are moderately lower.
- China’s HSBC Flash PMI rose to 48.8 in January from 48.7 the previous month. The reading is still below the contractionary level of 50. The data suggests industrial output growth of 11% – 12% in the coming months and that the economy could grow 8% in the first quarter.
- Today, Italian prime minister Mario Monti’s cabinet is expected to pass a plan aimed at driving competition and economic growth, by improving access to closed professions like notaries, while cutting their privileges as well. Italy’s antitrust authority has said the move could add 1.5% a year to the economy, over the next decade. Now check out what the euro economy will do in 2012 and 2013 >
- China, the largest holder of U.S. government debt, cut its holdings of U.S. Treasury bills for a second consecutive month in November. China cut its holdings by about $1.5 billion, to $1.1326 trillion in November. The Asian giant cut is holdings by $27.5 billion in the first 11 months of the year. Now here’s the truth about who owns American debt >
- In earnings news, GE reported earnings of $0.39 per share, on revenue of $38 billion. The company missed on revenue, and attributed it to slower growth in Europe and foreign exchange. Meanwhile, Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield-services provider posted Q4 earnings of $1.05 per share, on revenue of $10.97 billion. It posted full-year revenue of $39.54 billion.
- Existing home sales for December will be released at 10 AM ET. Consensus is for a rise in existing home sales to 4.65 million units annualized. Follow the release at Money Game >
- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has increased his stake in UK retailer Tesco, after the company warned that its trading profit would be flat in the 2012-2013 financial year. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway increased its stake to 5.08%, from 3.21%.
- Two tech giants posted earnings after the bell yesterday. Google reported Q4 earnings of $9.50 per share on a non-GAAP basis, and net revenue of $8.13 billion, missing estimates. Executives blamed the weak quarter on new ad formats, a weak economy, and a weak U.S. dollar. Meanwhile, Microsoft posted earnings of $0.77 per share, on revenue of $20.89 billion. The company reported a drop in revenue from PC sales, but managed to lower its full year operating expense.
- Greek officials and private creditors are meeting for a third day of debt swap talks. Greece needs to make a €14.5 billion bond repayment on March 20. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has urged his three-party coalition to back the debt restructuring and other reforms, and warned that the failure to do so, could cause Greece to lose access to a new €130bn bail-out package. Reminder: Here’s who gets crushed if Greece defaults >
- UK retail sales including fuel climbed 0.6% in December, after a revised 0.5% fall the previous month. Sales were boosted by store discounts during the holiday session. In the quarter ending December, retail sales grew 1.1%, the largest gain since the quarter through August 2010.
- BONUS – Zoe Saldana rushed to the aid of a woman injured in a car accident in Culver City, Los Angeles.