Good morning! Here are the 10 most important stories in markets today.
Three of the world’s most important central bankers are about to speak. First up, the Bank of England’s Mark Carney is speaking at an event at 10 a.m. GMT (5 a.m. ET), followed by the ECB’s Mario Draghi at 2.30 p.m. GMT (9.30 a.m. ET) and Fed chair Janet Yellen’s continued Humphrey Hawkins testimony at 3 p.m. GMT (10 a.m. ET).
China’s manufacturing sector picked up modestly in February. HSBC’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) for the country unexpectedly climbed to a four-month high of 50.1 in February from 49.7 in January. Economists were expecting the index to fall to 49.5. Anything above 50 signals growth.
Obama vetoed the Keystone pipeline. Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency. Obama offered no indication of whether he’ll eventually issue a permit for the pipeline.
Asian markets are largely flat. Japan’s Nikkei closed just 0.10% lower, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is currently up 0.03%. China’s Shanghai Composite is down a little more right now, 0.53% below Tuesday’s close.
HP indicated it won’t stop laying people off after the current round of 55,000. HP’s massive layoffs will continue beyond 55,000 people, thanks to its plans to separate into two huge companies, CFO Cathie Lesjak indicated on Tuesday.
Toyota is resisting signs of upward wage pressure in Japan. Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday that it was hard to respond in initial wage talks to the union’s request for a 13,300 yen ($US112) monthly wage increase.
The FTSE closed at a record high. The FTSE 100 hit a new all-time high at yesterday’s close. The index ended Tuesday at 6,949.63, above the December 1999 record of 6,930.2.
Spain’s prime minister just gave his last state of the union address before elections begin. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defended his record during a key debate in parliament on Tuesday ahead of a series of elections beginning in March and culminating with a general election in December, in which the anti-austerity Podemos party is tipped for strong gains.
Samsung will trade South Korea’s currency directly with China’s Yuan. Tech giant Samsung Electronics gave a big boost on Wednesday to Seoul’s ambitions to become a global hub for the offshore yuan business, saying it was preparing to start trading the Chinese currency directly with the South Korean won.
JP Morgan is slimming down. JP Morgan is planning to close 300 bank branches, or about 5% of the total, over the next two years, as more customers move to online and mobile banking and the bank looks to reduce its overall expenses. The plans were announced as part of the bank’s annual investor day conference Tuesday. The closures are part of a $US1.4 billion (£900 million) cost-cutting plan.