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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading with the Nikkei down 1.14 per cent. The Nikkei posted its biggest one-day percentage fall in two months on concerns of a global slowdown. Europe is lower and U.S. stock markets opened flat.
- Some economic news out of Europe. French business confidence climbed for the second time in nine months, with confidence in the manufacturing index rising to 96 in March, from 93 the previous month. Meanwhile, Italian retail sales rose 0.7 per cent month-over-month in January.
- Bank of America has started a new program that would allow some of its mortgage customers facing a foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners. For now the “Mortgage to Lease” program will be available to less that 1,000 customers in Arizona, Nevada and New York. Now here are 20 cities where foreclosures are a huge problem >
- Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is selling 15 per cent of his stake in the company. An amended regulatory filing by the company revealed details of just who would be selling shares as part of a secondary stock offering.
- In earnings news, Nike posted Q3 net income of $560 million or $1.20 per share, on revenue of $5.85 billion. The company expects Q4 earnings per share to rise by a percentage in the mid-teens. Meanwhile Darden Restaurants announced earnings saying it expects sales growth of 7 – 7.5 per cent this year. SocGen identifies the 40 best dividend stocks in the world >
- New home sales for February will be released at 10 a.m. ET. Consensus is for a rise in new home sales to an annual rate of 325K. Follow the release at Money Game >
- U.S. Airways Group is reportedly considering a merger with American Airlines. Bloomberg is reporting that executives have laid out details of a proposal by U.S. Airways, and the goal would be to complete the merger before American’s parent AMR Corp. exits Chapter 11.
- Mobile carrier T-Mobile announced that it is cutting 1,900 jobs across the country as it shutters seven of its call centres by the end of June. 3,300 people work at the call centres that are to be closed. The company does however expect to hire 1,400 people at the remaining 17 centres.
- Washington has yet to announce a candidate for the World Bank presidency ahead of today’s deadline. Emerging markets are expected to nominate at least one candidate today. South Africa will confirm the candidacy of Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala but it is unclear if Brazil will back the former Colombian finance minister.
- Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will deliver opening remarks at the Fed Conference on Central Banking “Before, During, and After the Crisis at 1:45 p.m. ET.
- Bonus – Hilary Duff gave birth to baby boy Luca Cruz Comrie.