Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian indices were up in overnight trading with the Shanghai Composite up 1.35%. Major European indices are up and US futures indicate a positive open.
- The unemployment report came in right in line with 192K new jobs. Read analysis here >
- Indonesia kept its key rate unchanged at 6.75% and may hike rates in April as it monitors core inflation.
- Wal-mart Stores Inc. increased its annual dividend by 21% from $1.21 a share to $1.46 a share. Click here to see the incredible story of Wal-Mart’s rise as a grocery company >
- Luxury brand Hermes International SCA reported an annual operating profit of $933 million, a 44% jump from the previous year. In Paris, Hermes stocks went up 3.1% on the news.
- Global central bankers met in Paris today to discuss economic imbalances, regulation and inflation among other topics. ECB policymaker Axel Weber warned that imbalances could worsen to pre-crisis levels.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel, incoming Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Polish Prime Minister and the EU President are among those who will participate in a European People’s Party meeting in Helsinki today. Merkel is trying to prevent any changes to the terms of the Irish bailout. Here’s the story of how the Irish economy became a basket case >
- State attorney generals and federal agencies sent US banks a notification late Thursday that may require them to write-down loan balances of troubled mortgage borrowers.
- China will boost its military spending by 12.7% this year to $91.5 billion. This comes on the heels of India’s announcement last week that it would raise its defence budget by 12% this year. Click here to see 12 jawdropping facts about China’s military >
- Chaos continues in the Middle East, protestors in Yemen say they were bombed, sectarian violence killed several people in Bahrain and protests continue in Tripoli today after Qadaffi’s troops shot at protestors in the capital. The unrest could make its way to Kuwait. Here’s a look at the 11 countries most likely to be the next Egypt >
- BONUS – Potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee slammed Natalie Portman for her “out-of-wedlock” pregnancy and the distorted image Hollywood promotes of single motherhood.