Nothing official came out of yesterday’s tense Eurogroup meeting. Greece and its eurozone partners are still at odds on how to handle Athens’ finances after a bailout deal expires this month, with sources offering conflicting versions of the eventual outcome of a Eurogroup finance ministers’ meeting on Wednesday. Two official sources told Reuters that, while there was no deal yet, a common statement was being drafted that could leave it open for Greece to extend its current financing.
But Greece’s finance minister says the country will “absolutely not” leave the euro. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, asked on arrival at his first meeting of the Euro Group if Athens might leave the euro zone, replied “absolutely not”.
Australian unemployment jumped and the Aussie dollar plunged. Australia lost 12,200 jobs in January and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.4%. The market was expecting a slight increase of 5,000 jobs and an increase in the unemployment rate to 6.2%. That surprise sent the Australian dollar bellow 0.77 US dollars.
US crude oil inventories are at their highest in at least 80 years. A report from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday said that US Crude inventories rose by 4.9 million barrels last week. This was more than the 3.6 million barrel increase that was expected. “At 417.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at the highest level for this time of year in at least the last 80 years,” the EIA wrote in its release.
Pilots are walking out at Lufthansa. Pilots at Lufthansa’s budget airline, Germanwings, started a two-day strike on Thursday as German pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) seeks to put pressure on management in a long-running row over pay and conditions.
The Bank of England’s inflation report is coming. The UK’s quarterly report on economic conditions from the Bank of England is out at 10:30 a.m. GMT (5:30 a.m. ET). Analysts are expecting the Bank to hold its current line against an early rate hike while inflation is low.
French, German, Ukrainian and Russian leaders will reportedly sign a deal. Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France will sign a document following all-night talks in Minsk on solving the Ukraine conflict, a diplomatic source said on Thursday. The source would not provide details of the nature of the document.
Asian markets surged. Japan’s Nikkei climbed 1.85%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is currently up 0.38%, and the Shanghai Composite Index is 0.48% higher just ahead of the close.
Honda CEO Ito will reportedly pursue another two years in the job. Honda Motor CEO Takanobu Ito, under fire for how he is dismantling the traditional way the Japanese car maker sources parts and technologies, has resisted moves for his ouster and will fight on for another two-year term, according to four people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Switzerland is outlining new immigration curbs against the EU. After a referendum a year ago, Swiss authorities are outlining how immigration curbs against the EU will apply. According to the FT, they will include quotas on foreign workers in Switzerland for more than four months.