Here’s what you need to know today.
China cuts rates. The People’s Bank of China cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 0.5 percentage points, from 20% to 19.5%, effectively trying to free up more room for banks to lend. This move comes as growth in the world’s second largest economy decelerates to its slowest pace in around 25 years.
Chinese services are growing at their slowest pace in six months. HSBC’s services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China, one of the most widely-watched business surveys in the world, fell to 51.8. Anything above 50 signals growth. Two days ago, HSBC’s survey for manufacturing showed the PMI below 50 for a second month.
European retail sales growth jumps to an 8-year high. Retail sales in the eurozone increased by 2.8% year-over-year in December, the strongest pace of growth since 2007.
Staples is buying Office Depot. Staples will pay Office Depot shareholders with a combination of cash and stock, valuing Office Depot at $US6.3 billion or around $US11.00 per share. Office Depot closed on Tuesday at $US9.28 per share. The combined company will include over 2,000 retail stores in 57 countries generating approximately $US17 billion in annual sales.
Disney is cashing in Frozen. Disney revenue jumped 8.8% to $US13.39 billion and earnings climbed to $US1.27 per share. This was much stronger than the $US12.87 billion in revenue and $US1.07 in EPS expected by analysts. Among other things, management attributed the strength of its quarter to the success of the “Frozen” franchise.
Markets aren’t doing much. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 is down 0.4%, France’s CAC is flat, and Germany’s DAX is down 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei climbed 1.98% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5%. US futures are flat.
US jobs and services data is coming. The ADP employment report crosses at 8:15 a.m.; economists expect it to reveal that US companies added 220,000 payrolls in January. At 10:00 a.m. ET, we’ll get the ISM services report. Economists estimate this index of services slipped to 56.4 in January. “We saw the largest monthly decline in gasoline prices in January, since the recent downward spiral began,” BNP Paribas economists said. “We likely saw some disappointment from the oilfield services sector, but a consumption boost from lower gasoline prices was a likely offset.”
Greece’s new prime minister is heading to Brussels for a showdown. Greece’s Alexis Tsipras arrives at the seat of the European Commission today for talks with its president, Jean Claude Juncker. Stocks rallied Tuesday after Greece’s new finance minister said that the administration would pursue a debt swap rather than an outright haircut. The meeting today could also move markets.
US oil worker strike enters day 4. “Negotiations will resume on Wednesday between Royal Dutch Shell Plc and union leaders as they haggle over a new wage contract for striking U.S. refinery workers, the company said,” Reuters Erwin Seba reported. “The two camps have been at an impasse since the United Steelworkers union (USW) called walkouts early on Sunday for the first time since 1980 at nine plants with about 10 per cent of U.S. refining capacity, saying Shell left the negotiating table when talks broke down.”
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