Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian indices were mixed in overnight trading with the Shanghai Composite down 0.23%. Major European indices are up and U.S. futures are heading lower.
- Chinese CPI came in at 5.3% for the month of April, above estimates ranging from 5.1% to 5.2%. Inflation is down from last month, but reserve ratio hikes haven’t done much to slow inflation. Related: The 10 hyperinflation horror stories of the 20th century >
- A general strike is on at Greece today to protest against government austerity measures. The strike was called by the country’s major unions. Even their main newspaper Kathimerini has joined the 24-hour strike across the country. Here are images from last year’s Greek riots >
- The Bank of England slashed its growth forecast on account of government austerity measures and pressure on household incomes. GDP growth was downgraded to about 1%, from the previous estimate of 2% for 2011. CPI inflation is likely to remain above the target throughout 2012. Check out Niall Ferguson’s new presentation on the decline of the west >
- AIG and the U.S. Treasury scaled back plans for a share sale and now expect to sell about $8.7bn in shares in the insurance group’s public offering. The move comes after a decline in the company’s stock that closed near an 8-month low Tuesday.
- On the earnings front, upscale French retailer Hermes International reported higher than expected Q1 sales driven by purchases of luxury watches and fragrances. Steel giant ArcelorMittal reported a 67% jump in net profit to $1.07 billion. Margins were pushed up because of higher sales and the spin-off of its stainless-steel unit Aperam SA.
- March trade deficit came in at $48.2 billion, which is worse than $47 billion expected >
- A new poll shows that President Barack Obama’s approval rating has hit its 60%, its highest in two years. Over 50% of Americans polled say he deserves to be re-elected. The president’s standing improved on foreign policy and the economy. Don’t miss: A complete guide to Obama’s Plan to cut the deficit >
- Toyota the world’s largest car maker posted a 77% drop in Q4 profits. The company’s production was stalled, and domestic sales were hurt by the Japanese earthquake. The company’s CEO has urged the government for relief from the strong yen. Now here are images of the devastation in Japan a month after the earthquake >
- The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an application made by Delta Air Lines and affiliates of the Virgin Blue Group to conduct joint services between the U.S. and Australia. The decision will be subject to a public-review period before becoming final.
- BONUS – Katie Holmes has hired Bella Cruise, step-daughter of husband Tom Cruise as an intern for her clothing line, Holmes & Yang.
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