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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mostly higher in overnight trading, with India’s SENSEX gaining 2.0 per cent. European shares also headed higher, while U.S. futures point to a moderately higher open.
- Japanese industrial production surged 4.0 per cent month-on-month in December, faster than economists predicted. Automakers were bolstered by the return of Thai supply lines that had been down since flooding devastated the nation. However, the unemployment rate in Japan increased 10 basis points to 4.6 per cent in December.
- The European Union headed closer to fiscal unity when leaders of 25 member countries agreed to sign a treaty designed to stop overspending and move forward with the establishment of a permanent EU rescue fund. The compact includes rules that limit debt allowances and makes it harder for countries to avoid sanctions if running debt above certain metrics. Britain and the Czech Republic said they were against the new ties.
- German unemployment fell to a 20-year low, when 34,000 fewer people said they were jobless. The rate hit 6.7 per cent, 10 basis points below last month’s reading, and below economist expectations for it to remain flat.
- Lucas Papademos, the Greek prime minister, warned that the country could need more public funding to help solve its debt crisis. Recent reports put the private sector write downs at 70 per cent, on top of a €100 billion plus bailout. Here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s E.U. summit that ended without finalised terms for Greece’s bailout.
- The Russian economy expanded by 4.3 per cent in 2011, topping forecasts for 4.1 per cent growth. Net exports grew by 1.0 per cent as imports surged 21.5 per cent. Goldman Sachs doesn’t think the BRIC story is over. Click here to see what themes the investment bank thinks will continue over the next decade >
- U.S. housing prices measured by the S&P/Case Shiller index declined 0.7 per cent in November, a greater fall than expected. Economists were looking for a 0.5% drop. U.S. consumer confidence will be announced at 10 a.m. Economists forecast the index will increase to 68 from 64.5. Follow them both live on Money Game.
- Apple has hired the leader of Dixons, one of Europe’s largest electronics retailers, to run its store front operations. John Browett will become the company’s senior vice president for retail. The move fills the void that was left when J.C. Penney named Ron Johnson its chief executive officer.
- Earnings season heated up after a slow Monday, with ExxonMobil and UPS reporting, among others. ExxonMobil missed by a penny, with earnings of $9.4 billion or $1.97 per share. However, bellwether UPS beat, at $1.28 per share. Here’s what the largest companies have already told us this quarter.
- Honda announced net profit fell 41 per cent to ¥47.66 billion, or $624.3 million, as a strong yen eroded international margins and Thai suppliers only started coming back on line. The company forecast full year net profit of ¥215 billion, well below analyst expectations for ¥250.5 billion.