Good morning! Here are 10 of the most important stories in markets today.
Japan’s inflation rate is now back at zero. Stripping out the effect of the tax increase that came in last April, core inflation fell to zero, posing a challenge for the government of Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan. The central bank is now committed to a 2% inflation target.
Lufthansa’s Germanwings could face enormous legal liabilities after Tuesday’s horrific crash. Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings could face liabilities well above the typical ceiling in airline crashes for the passengers who died on Tuesday when one of its jets was flown into an Alpine mountain, some aviation lawyers said.
Yahoo is buying back another $US2 billion in shares. Yahoo has just added $US2 billion (£1.35 billion) to its share buyback program, an SEC filling revealed on Thursday. Thursday’s announcement is an extension of the $US5 billion share buyback program Yahoo started in 2013.
A Ukrainian default on its debts owed to Russia would threaten IMF help for the country. A default by Ukraine on $US3 billion (£2.02 billion) in debt owed to Russia this year could threaten the International Monetary Fund’s lifeline to the embattled country, an IMF spokesman said Thursday.
Other Japanese economic data overnight was mixed. Overall household spending was down 2.9% in the year to February, against expectations of a 3.2% fall — driven by a spending surge last year ahead of April’s tax hike. However, total retail sales were down 1.8%, a worst decline than the 1.5% drop expected.
Amazon is reportedly in talks to buy Net-a-porter. Amazon.com is in talks to buy online luxury retailer Net-a-porter in what could be the biggest acquisition yet for the e-commerce giant, but the negotiations are in early stages and could fall apart, Forbes reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney will speak. At 8:45 a.m. GMT (4:45 a.m. ET) Carney will speak. Since he last said much in public, Bank chief economist Andy Haldane has publicly said that the UK may need to cut interest rates again, which Carney may comment on, and could move markets.
India is reportedly putting the brakes on its universal health care plans. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for a drastic cutback of an ambitious health care plan after cost estimates came in at $US18.5 billion (£57.26 billion) over five years, several government sources said, delaying a promise made in his election manifesto.
South Korea is looking for an infrastructure boost from joining China’s new bank. South Korea hopes its infrastructure companies will benefit from the country joining the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the finance ministry said on Friday. Shares in some iron and steel products makers rose sharply in early trading, partly on hopes for new orders when the AIIB is operational and funding infrastructure projects, which is likely next year.
Asian markets are mostly down. Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.95%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is currently down 0.14%. The Shanghai Composite is up a little, 0.28% higher.