Good morning! Here are the major stories you need to hear about in markets today.
Swiss Franc Stunner. The Swiss National Bank unexpectedly abandoned its price floorit had on the Swiss franc-euro exchange rate. The floor was 1.20 francs per euro. After the announcement crossed, the currency strengthened by around 30% to 0.85 francs per euro. It has since fallen back to around 1.03. From the SNB: “The euro has depreciated considerably against the US dollar and this, in turn, has caused the Swiss franc to weaken against the US dollar. In these circumstances, the SNB concluded that enforcing and maintaining the minimum exchange rate for the Swiss franc against the euro is no longer justified.” The central bank cut also interest rates even further into negative territory this morning, down to -0.75% from -0.25%.
Swiss CEO Reacts. “Today’s SNB action is a tsunami; for the export industry and for tourism, and finally for the entire country.” Swatch CEO Nick Hayek said.
Markets Are Tumbling. Following the SNB announcement, stock markets around the world fell. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 is down 0.6%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.7%, and Germany’s DAX fell 0.3%. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed up 1.8%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed up 0.9%. US futures are down with Dow futures down 115 points and S&P 500 futures down 16 points.
India Announced A Surprise Cut In Interest Rates. As central banks around the world seek to avoid deflation, the Reserve Bank of India cut its main policy rate from 8% to 7.75%, according to the Financial Times. Consumer price inflation is still at 5% in India, but that’s significantly down from the 7.5% it started 2014 with. The India’s Sensex index surged 2.6%.
OPEC Says Oil Demand Is Tanking. “The collapse in oil prices is starting to slow growth in U.S. output, OPEC said on Thursday, although the slowdown will not prevent demand for the exporter group’s oil falling in 2015 to its lowest in a decade,” Reuters’ Alex Lawler reported. “In a monthly report, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forecast demand for the group’s oil will drop to 28.78 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, down 140,000 bpd from its previous figure and the lowest since 2004.”
Bank Of America Earnings. Bank of America’s adjusted Q4 earnings came in at $US0.32 per share; analysts were looking for $US0.31.
Caesars Is Reorganising. “The main operating unit of the troubled US casino giant Caesars Entertainment — owner of the famed Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — said it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection,” AFP reported. “Caesars Entertainment Operating Company said in a statement that under the restructuring plan it aimed to reduce debt by about $US10 billion, slashing annual interest payments by about 75% to $US450 million”
RadioShack To File For Bankruptcy. “RadioShack Corp. is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as early as next month, people familiar with the matter said, following a sputtering turnaround effort that left the electronics chain short on cash,” WSJ’s Matt Jarzemsky, Mike Spector, and Drew Fitzgerald reported. “A filing could come in the first week of February, one of the people said. The Fort Worth, Texas, company has reached out to potential lenders who could help fund its operations during the process, another person said.”
Blackberry Shares Soared And Then Slumped On A Samsung Buyout Rumour. BlackBerry soared over 29% after Reuters reported that Samsung was talking about buying the company for as much as $US7.5 billion. But then the stock got hammered after Blackberry issued a statement denying that it’s in negotiations with with Samsung. It fell by more than 14% after hours.
Lots Of Economic Data Coming. At 8:30 a.m. ET, we’ll get the producer price index report, the Empire manufactuing report, and initial jobless claims report. At 10:00 a.m. ET, we’ll get the Philly Fed Business Outlook report. Read our preview in BI’s Monday Scouting Report.