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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading, with the Nikkei falling 0.55 per cent weighed down by stocks with exposure to China. Europe is modestly higher and U.S. markets opened modestly higher.
- UK budget deficit nearly doubled in February, with net borrowing excluding support for banks rising to £15.2 billion in February, compared to £8.9 billion a year ago. Net debt rose to £995 billion or 63.1 per cent of GDP, up from 58.8 per cent a year ago. Meanwhile, Bank of England policy committee voted 7 – 2 not to expand QE.
- Oracle reported Q3 earnings of $0.62 per share, on revenue of $9.04 billion, beating expectations. Earnings were boosted by sales of new software. SocGen identified the 40 best dividend stocks in the world >
- In earnings news, General Mills reported Q3 adjusted earnings of $0.55 per share, and net sales of $4.12 billion. Meanwhile, Sonic Corp is expected to announces earnings of $0.02 per share and consensus is for Discover Financial Services to announce earnings of $0.92 per share.
- Mitt Romney won the Illinois primary, and with 99 per cent of precincts reporting, he secured 47 per cent of the votes, follow by Santorum with 35 per cent. The Republican presidential hopefuls will now be heading to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.
- Existing home sales for February will be out at 10:00 a.m. ET. Consensus is for a rise in the existing home sales to a 4.61 million annual rate. Follow the release at Money Game >
- JPMorgan is reportedly buying a 19.9 per cent stake in Bridge Trust Co. a Chinese trust company. The deal will require approval from the China Banking Regulatory Commission. A Quick Glance At 77 Years Of Explosive Banking Industry Growth >
- Fed reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and treasury secretary Tim Geithner are testifying before a U.S. House committee about Europe’s debt crisis today. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET.
- The U.S. has exempt Japan and 10 EU nations from financial sanctions because they cut imports of Iranian crude oil. Conspicuously however, China and India the two biggest importers of Iranian crude were left off the list.
- China’s five biggest banks are expected to post a 15 per cent increase in combined Q4 net income according to Bloomberg. But 2011 results are expected to be hit by bad loans as borrowers default on the back of an economic slowdown and a struggling property market.
- Bonus – Katy Perry took a swipe at Beyonce while planning a duet with Rihanna.