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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets posted solid gains in overnight trading, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 2.0 per cent. However, that surge did not translate to Europe, with shares there mostly flat. U.S. futures point to a slightly negative open.
- Spain and France both saw strong demand at debt auctions today, with Spain selling €4.56 billion in notes, above its maximum target. France sold €7.9 billion of 10-year bonds at a yield of 3.13 per cent, also at the high end of targets. It’s last 10-year auction saw the yield set at 3.29 per cent. Click here for the Eurozone Crisis For Dummies Guide >
- Industrial producer prices fell 0.2 per cent in both the 17-nation euro area and 27-nation E.U., data from the official European statistics office showed. The reading was 10 basis points below economist projections. The largest declines were seen in Denmark and Sweden, down 1.2 and 0.8 per cent, respectively.
- Facebook filed paperwork with the SEC announcing its intention to publicly sell shares. In the filing, the company reported net income during 2011 of $1 billion, on revenue of $3.7 billion. Top line results grew by 88 per cent from a year earlier, and Facebook announced that Zynga accounted for 12 per cent of its revenue.
- Morgan Stanley secured the lead underwriter position on Facebook’s IPO, edging out Goldman Sachs, which early reports pegged as the likely candidate. Goldman Sachs was ultimately listed third, behind J.P. Morgan Chase. The investment banks will help Facebook raise some $5 billion through the offering.
- U.S. economic announcements today include initial claims and nonfarm productivity, set for realease at 8:30 a.m. Economists polled by Bloomberg expect initial claims will tick down to 371,000, from 377,000 last week. Fourth quarter preliminary nonfarm productivity is seen expanding 0.8 per cent. Follow it all live on Money Game.
- Deutsche Bank fell to an unexpected pre-tax loss in the fourth quarter, as trading revenues remained depressed and the bank took write downs on Greek bonds. In total, it posted a loss of €351 million euros, or $463 million. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast profits of €1.05 billion. The quarter’s end also marked the close of Josef Ackermann’s tenure as chief executive.
- Merck and Viacom also reported earnings before the U.S. opening bell, both slightly beating earnings forecasts. Merck posted earnings per share of $0.97, as global sales grew to $12.2 billion year-on-year. The drug maker said sales of its Januvia and Janumet franchise grew 40 per cent during the fourth quarter to top $1.3 billion. Meanwhile, MTV owner Viacom saw net earnings decline 5 per cent during its first quarter to $591 million, or $1.06 per share.
- Commodities giant Glencore and mining company Xstrata are in talks to complete an $80 billion merger. The largest diversified commodities trader already owns a 34 per cent stake in Xstrata. The transaction is expected to be completed entirely through stock. Now, meet the mysterious trading firms who control the price of commodities
- A busy week of earnings continue, with The New York Times and Blackstone. Analysts polled by Bloomberg forecast EPS of $0.41 at The Times and $0.38 at Blackstone. Media followers will be closely watching how many new online subscribers The New York Times’ flagship paper has added, and if its strategy to roll the paywall out to regional papers like the Boston Globe, is working. Here’s everything we’ve already learned this earnings season.