Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Markets in Asia were mostly higher in overnight trading. The Japanese Nikkei advanced 1.9%, but the Shanghai Composite fell 0.1%. European markets are higher across the board, with Italy leading the way, up 1.8%. In the United States, futures point to a positive open.
- The yield on the 2-year Italian government bond fell to an all-time low this morning after Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected over the weekend. Although Italy is still without a government and likely faces another round of elections, Napolitano’s re-election at least provides some semblance of continuity there.
- Global construction giant and economic bellwether Caterpillar reported first quarter earnings. The company fell short of expectations on the top and bottom lines, and it also reduced its outlook. “What’s happening in our business and in the economy overall is a mixed picture. Conditions in the world economy seem relatively stable, and we continue to expect slow growth in 2013,” said CEO Doug Oberhelman.
- New data from Eurostat revealed that the euro area budget deficit narrowed to 3.7% in 2012 from 4.2% the year before. However, the ratio of public debt to GDP rose to 90.6% from 87.3%. 11 of the 17 countries in the euro zone failed to meet the Maastricht criterion specifying that deficits should be no greater than 3% of GDP.
- Banks around the world are flocking to Asia to make consumer loans to the region’s growing middle class. In the past five years, nonmortgage consumer credit in Asia ex-Japan has risen 67% to $1.66 trillion.
- South Korea’s foreign minister has cancelled a diplomatic visit to Japan following a weekend visit by top Japanese officials to a controversial war shrine honouring, among others, some convicted of war crimes during World War Two. Seoul said of Japanese finance minister Taro Aso’s attendance to the shrine, which is considered provocative in Korea, “He is a very important figure in the government, so this is a very, very serious problem.”
- According to reports, hospitalized Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awake and answering questions in writing, due to a gunshot wound to the throat which prevents him from speaking.
- The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index for March is out at 8:30 AM ET. The index is expected to moderate to 0.35 from 0.44 last month, indicating a slowing yet positive rate of growth in national economic activity in the United States.
- Euro zone consumer confidence data for April are released at 10 AM ET. Economists expect the index to sink to -24 this month from -23.5, indicating worsening confidence in the euro area economy.
- March existing home sales figures are due out in the United States at 10 AM ET. Economists predict sales rose 0.4% in March from the previous month after posting 0.8% growth in February. Follow the data LIVE on Business Insider >
- BONUS: Reese Witherspoon and her husband were arrested this weekend after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.
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