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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading, with the Hang Seng down 0.95 per cent after Chinese home prices fell in February. Europe is selling off and U.S. futures are modestly lower.
- Apple has authorised a $10 billion share buyback program. It also announced a dividend of $2.65 per share in the fourth quarter. CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer will host a conference call at 9:00 a.m. ET. Here’s what the smart money thinks Apple will do with its cash >
- On a month-over-month basis, home prices in China fell in 45 of the 70 cities surveyed by the government. Three cities posted gains, while prices in 22 cities were unchanged. This comes after Premiere Wen Jiabao’s press conference last week when he said home prices were far from a reasonable level and cautioned against relaxing curbs on the housing market. Now here are 12 big stories that will dominate in 2012 >
- Italian industrial orders fell 7.4 per cent in January against expectations of a 3.2 per cent decline. Meanwhile, December orders were revised down to reflect a 5.2 per cent gain, from 5.5 per cent.
- The NAHB housing market index for March will be released at 10 a.m. ET. Consensus is for a rise in the housing market index to 30. Follow the release at Money Game >
- UPS has agreed to acquire Dutch competitor TNT Express for $6.85 billion in a deal that would give it access to TNT’s stronger networks in Asia and Latin America. The deal would also make it the market leader in Europe.
- Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney won the Peurto Rico primary by a landslide with about 83 per cent of the vote. Santorum was in second place with just 8 per cent of the vote. Next up Romney faces an Illinois vote to get the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination.
- Eurozone’s current account surplus climbed to €4.5 billion in January to its highest level in nearly five years. But outflows of portfolio and direct investment surged for the same period.
- Indian consumer price inflation climbed to 8.83 per cent in February from 7.7 per cent the previous month. Inflation was pushed higher by the cost of milk and milk products and apparel, while prices of vegetables fell. Morgan Stanley this is what will happen in India in 2012 and 2013 >
- Hong Kong’s unemployment rate climbed to 3.4 per cent in the three-months through February, from 3.2 per cent. Analysts say the weaker global economic outlook is weighing on hiring sentiment and expect it to push the jobless rate higher in coming months.
- Bonus – Eva Longoria is meeting President Obama to discuss education, immigration and the economy.