Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:
- Asian markets were higher in overnight trading, with the Shanghai Composite up 1.59%. Major European industries are also higher, and U.S. futures suggest a positive open. Now here are the 10 unusual stocks to watch this morning >
- Factory orders data for November is released at 10:00 AM ET. Expectations are for orders to remain flat. Follow coverage of the release at Money Game >
- Floods in Australia’s Queensland region look likely to expand with more rain coming. Right now, nearly three quarters of the region’s coal exports are being delayed or stopped. This is what the floods ravaging Australia look like >
- German unemployment surprisingly increased in December, though the unemployment rate remained at 7.5%. The slowdown is being blamed on harsh winter conditions in the country. These are the 6 macro themes that matter in 2011 >
- The UK’s manufacturing sector continued to perform well in December, with the country’s PMI rising to 58.3. PMI is now at a 16-year high.
- The five biggest U.S. lenders, including Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Citigroup are said to be close to a settlement of the various states foreclosure lawsuits. It should be excellent news for the red-hot financials. See here for more details >
- Spain is preparing to launch a new stress test of the country’s savings banks in an effort to drive them to raise money on the open market. The government is trying to avoid unnecessary reliance on its banking sector support fund. Look no further, here’s your complete guide to the oncoming Spanish debt crisis >
- The U.S. office occupation rate increased by 2.5% in Q4 2010, the first increase in around 3 years. The vacancy rate on office space nationwide remains high, at 17.6%.
- Shell is continuing to ponder a deal for BP, in which the two oil giants would merge. Shell has no interest in bidding, however, unless a rival steps in first. Click here to see why a former BP executive thinks peak oil is real >
- Borders shares sank over 8% in after hours trading yesterday as a result of two executives leaving the company. Recently, Borders failed to make payment to some of its publishing partners.
- The Pentagon will announce plans to cut its budget by $100 billion that will include reductions in spending on certain weapons programs. U.S. defence Secretary Robert Gates could announce the moves on Thursday. Check out Goldman Sachs’ Jan Hatzius answers to 10 pressing questions on the U.S. economy >
- Bonus: Kim Kardashian says, “I don’t find myself as sexy as everyone thinks,” and that she is “insecure.”
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