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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Overnight trading in Asia was markedly higher, with the Shanghai SE Composite up 2.7% and Indian Sensex up 2.2%. Europe is sharply positive, while U.S. futures look to extend those gains.
- China’s trade surplus grew to $16.5 billion in December, the country’s customs agency said. Imports rose 11.8% year-on-year, while exports gained 13.4%. However, import growth compared to a rapid 22.1% surge in November.
- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in Asia to meet with leaders of China and Japan this week. Geithner is expected to press both countries to cut Iranian oil imports, while pushing China on currency appreciation. He will meet with Premier Wen Jiabao in China and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Japan.
- Deposits held at the European Central Bank set a new record level on Monday, as banks continue to hold cash and avoid lending with risky peers. Euro area banks deposited €481.9 billion, or $615.2 billion, at the institution. At the same time, financial institutions borrowed €1.5 billion from the ECB’s overnight lending facility. Here’s what Wall Street forecasts will happen in Europe in 2012.
- Fitch ratings says it will make a series of ratings changes to European countries by the end of this month. Fitch currently has Italy, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia and Cyprus on negative ratings watch. The agency has noted that France will likely be left unchanged.
- Nomura’s wholesale banking chief Jesse Bhattal resigned as his division continues to face difficulties following its acquisition of certain Lehman Brothers’ operations. Bhattal, who joined the Japanese investment house from Lehman, is leaving amid a painful $1.2 billion cost cutting program. Here’s a roundup of the biggest banking layoffs in 2011.
- aluminium producer Alcoa announced a fourth quarter loss of $193 million, or -$0.03 per share when excluding one time results, on $6 billion in revenues, yesterday. The headline figure represents a 7% sequential decline, but a 6% year-on-year gain. Analysts had forecast top line results of $5.7 billion. See the seven most important slides from Alcoa’s 2012 outlook >
- Luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. cut its full year profit guidance by 10 cents, to a range of $3.60 to $3.65, this morning. The company said sale gains slowed to just 4% in the Americas during the final months of 2011. “Sales weakened markedly in the United States and Europe during the holiday season, reflecting restrained spending by consumers for fine jewelry,” the company’s CEO said.
- Small business optimism in the U.S. came in line with expectations, rising to 93.8 from 92.0 in November. Wholesale inventories grew by a scant 0.1% in November, compared to estimates for 0.5% growth.
- Republican and undecided voters will head to the polls today in New Hampshire. Unlike the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire voters will vote throughout the day. Continuing a tradition of voting immediately after the clock strikes midnight, residents in Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location have already cast ballots. Follow the returns on Business Insider