Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading, with the Japanese Nikkei gaining 1.5% as China’s Shanghai Exchange declined 1.4%. Europe is trading lower while U.S. futures point to a slightly negative open. Click here to see the top performing markets of 2011 >
- European inflation declined to 2.8% in December, in line with economist estimates and helping lower ECB borrowing costs. Inflation was 3% in November. A Markit Economics purchasing manufacturers index also showed an improving picture, rising to 48.3 from earlier estimates of 47.9 for December. However, a reading below 50 indicates contraction. Here’s everything you need to know about Europe in 2012 >
- Chinese home prices fell for the fourth-straight month, dipping 0.25% in December. SouFun, China’s largest real estate website, noted prices declined in 60% of the 100 cities tracked, including Shanghai and Beijing. At the same time, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo struck an ominous chord about the economy.
- Italian bank UniCredit was forced to offer discounted shares in an effort to raise €7.5 billion to meet capital requirements. Shares have fallen more than 9% so far today after the subscription rate for the offering was priced at €1.94 per share by UniCredit’s board of directors. These are the countries with the biggest exposure to Italy >
- Chevron’s $18 billion charge levied by Ecuador was held up by an appeals court. Ecuador originally fined the company some $8.6 billion, but increased that after Chevron refused to publicly apologise. The figure currently stands as the largest environmental fine set in history, although damages from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill are likely to overtake it.
- Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucuses by eight votes last night, with 30,015 ballots cast in his favour. Rick Santorum placed second with Ron Paul close on his heels. But here’s why Ron Paul may have secretly won the caucuses.
- Yahoo’s board of directors is expected to name a new CEO as early as this morning, All Things D’s Kara Swisher reports. Sources have told Swisher that the leading candidate is PayPal President Scott Thompson.
- U.S. economic announcements this morning include factory orders and December auto sales. Economists polled by Bloomberg expect the headline factory figure to increase 2% for November, reversing a 0.4% decline a month earlier. Analysts see total auto sales at 13.5 million. Follow both live on Money Game >
- Now defunct MF Global sold hundreds of millions of dollars of assets to Goldman Sachs days before it announced it was illiquid, Reuters reports. The company was rapidly drawing down a $1.2 billion credit line at J.P. Morgan and was trying to raise needed capital. Click here for a complete guide to MF Global’s collapse >
- Federal prosecutors accused three Swiss bankers of helping U.S. taxpayers hide $1.2 billion in assets. The indictment said top management at Wegelin & Co. was aware of the actions, as the company tried to capture business lost by UBS as the IRS began investigations.