10 things you need to know before European markets open

Alexis Tsipras Vladimir PutinREUTERS/Alexander ZemlianichenkoRussian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attend a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, April 8, 2015.

Good morning! Here are 10 things you need to hear about in markets today.

The Federal Reserve is split on when to raise interest rates. The Minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting showed that the Fed is quite split on when and why it will be appropriate to tighten monetary policy with interest rate hikes. “Several participants” think June would be a good bet.

Scottish nationalists want full fiscal autonomy in any coalition negotiations. Scottish nationalists will try to wrestle full control over taxation and spending for Scotland from the British government if they win kingmaker position in the May 7 general election, their leader said on Wednesday.

Greece will likely make today’s payment to the IMF, but how long it can last is an open question. Greece is due to make its €459 million ($US495 million) April loan payment to the IMF Thursday following days of uncertainty, but the European nation’s ability to honour its debts remains a source of acute anxiety to creditors.

Asian markets are mostly up. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has surged higher, up 3.44%, followed by Japan’s Nikkei, which is 0.70% higher, while the Shanghai Composite Index is having a rare bad day, down 0.89%.

Samsung reckons record S6 sales will halt its slide in profits. Samsung said on Thursday it expected its new flagship smartphone to shatter sales records and pull the company out of a recent profit slump that saw it lose ground to arch-rival Apple and cheaper Chinese makers.

Switzerland sold a 10 year bond with a negative yield. On Wednesday, Switzerland sold 377.9 million Swiss francs worth of bonds maturing in 2025 and 2049, respectively, and the yield on the 10-year paper came in at -0.055%.

The Bank of England’s latest decision is coming at noon London time (7 a.m. ET). The UK central bank is extremely likely to hold interest rates, and probably with a unanimous vote — it looks like the BoE won’t be hiking rates until at least a few months after the Federal Reserve.

Alibaba’s finance arm will launch a private online bank. Alibaba Group’s finance arm will launch its private internet bank, to be called MYbank in June, Yuan Leiming, Ant Financial’s general manager of its finance division, told Reuters in an interview in Beijing on Thursday.

Lafarge and Holcim have appointed a CEO after their mega-merger. Lafarge and Holcim have appointed long-time Lafarge executive Eric Olsen as the chief executive of their combined company once their merger is completed, the two groups said in a statement on Thursday.

GM is mulling a $US1.3 billion (£874 million) expansion of a Texas plant. General Motors is mulling a $US1.3 billion expansion of its Arlington, Texas, assembly plant to boost production of its sport-utility vehicles, according to documents from the city.

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