GLOBAL MARKETS GET SLAMMED: Here's What You Need To Know

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Warning signals flash around the world.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 12,927.1, -102.0, -0.7%
S&P 500: 1,366.9, -11.5, -0.8%
NASDAQ: 2,970.4, -30.0, -1.0%

And now the top stories:

  • As expected, France whittled down its list of 10 presidential candidates to two: Francois Hollande and Nicholas Sarkozy.  Hollande, the socialist party candidate, secured more votes than the incumbent Sarkozy. However, far right-winger Marine Le Pen surprised everyone by landing 20 per cent of the votes.  Now, who do you think her voters would vote for in the second round. 14 Awful Facts About The French Economy >
  • Austerity talks failed in the Netherlands over the weekend after far-right leader Geert Wilders said demands were too harsh.  This morning, Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered his resignation.
  • The March Eurozone Flash PMI numbers came out this morning and they reflected the contraction in the region.  Banco de Espana released its first estimate of Q1 GDP, and it was -0.4 per cent on a sequential basis.  European markets got crushed with Spain, Italy, and Germany all closing down by more than 3 per cent.
  • China’s HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI climbed to 49.1 from 48.3 last month.  A reading below 50 signals contraction in the sector.  However, Bank of America’s Ting Lu isn’t too worried.  In a new note to clients, Lu lists six reasons why China’s economy will accelerate in Q2.  Among other things, he notes China is coming off of its coldest winter in 27 years.
  • Kellogg shares plunged today after slashing 2012 guidance. Management expects full year revenue to climb by just 2 to 3 per cent.  EPS is expected to come in at $3.18 to $3.30.  “We faced more significant challenges in both Europe and in some categories in the U.S. than we expected,” said CEO John Bryant.  What The World’s Biggest Companies Are Telling Us About The State Of The Economy >
  • Walmart got crushed by some bad press from the New York Times this weekend.  According to the The Times’ David Barstow, Wal-Mart de Mexico paid bribes to secure permits throughout the country.  If the allegations are true, Business Insider estimates that the fines could surge to as much as $13 billion.  Shares fell by around 5 per cent.
  • Citi’s Deborah Weinswig doesn’t think the Walmart headlines are that big of a deal yet.  She raised her price target on the company today.  But Deutsche Bank’s Charles Grom can think of five reasons why this is a major problem for the world’s largest retailer.  The 21 Most Controversial Stocks In The World >
  • BMO’s new top equity strategist Brian Belski published his first research note today.  He believes the S&P 500 will close the year at 1,425. But he thinks it’ll be a bumpy ride.  Citi’s Tobias Levkovich is also bullish on stocks relative to bonds.  But Levkovich is worried that investors and analysts are being to optimistic about earnings expectations.  Bank of America’s Nigel Tupper is much more bullish.  Tupper notes that the firm’s proprietary “Global Wave” indicator just turned positive, which could precede a 14 per cent rally in global stocks.
  • Netflix announces earnings this afternoon.  Follow it LIVE at Business Insider.
  • Don’t Miss: 11 Big Bubbles That Are Happening Right Now >

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