Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading with the Shanghai Composite down 0.16 per cent after China’s trade deficit widened. Europe is mixed, and U.S. markets have opened modestly lower.
- China’s trade deficit widened to $31.5 billion in February, the largest monthly trade deficit in 12 years. Exports fell 23.6 per cent month-over-month. After a slew of weak economic data, analysts expect more monetary easing. Jim Rogers explains what all the China bears are getting wrong >
- Euro-area finance ministers are meeting in Brussels today to sign off on a €130 billion bailout for Greece. This comes after bondholders agreed to take a loss on the country’s debt last week. The ministers will also focus on Portugal’s aid program and Spain’s budget.
- Japanese machinery orders rebounded in January suggesting that investment could boost economic recovery. Bookings, which are an indicator of future capital spending, rose 3.4 per cent month-over-month.
- An American soldier killed 16 civilians when he opened fire on villagers near his base in Southern Afghanistan. The soldier is now in custody. The attack is a blow to Washington’s attempt to build a strategic-pact with Kabul to allow a long-term U.S. presence in the region. Nine children and three women were killed in the attack.
- Apple’s strategy of aligning itself with just one mobile carrier has caused it to lose market share in China. The iPhone has 7.5 per cent share of China’s smartphone sales, compared to Samsung’s 24.3 per cent share.
- In M&A news, Japanese company Asahi Kasei Corp has agreed to buy Zoll Medical Corp for $2.2 billion as it seeks to expand into the U.S. market. Asahi Kasei will pay $93 a share for Zoll Medical. Meanwhile, Glencore International is looking to buy Canadian grain handler Viterra Inc as it seeks to expand its North American grain business.
- The U.S. Treasury budget for February will be released at 2 PM ET. Consensus is for a rise in February deficit to $229 billion. Follow the release at Money Game >
- Pepsico is expanding its management team as it prepares for potential successors to chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, the Wall Street Journal reported. Pepsico made two key leadership changes, former senior Wal-Mart executive Brian Cornell is now the CEO of Pepsico Americas Foods, while John Compton is now President of Pepsico.
- India has ended its week-long ban on cotton exports causing cotton prices to drop. The move followed protests by domestic farmers, traders and China. The Directorate General of foreign trade will now have to revaildate permits for 3.5 million bales registered with the ministry before the ban. Now here are Morgan Stanley’s commodity predictions for 2012 >
- Bonus – Kristen Stewart is seen topless in the trailer of her new movie On The Road.