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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Overnight trading in Asia was mostly mixed, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gaining 0.3 per cent. Indexes in Europe are substantially higher and U.S. futures point to a positive open.
- Spain sold €1.9 billion in short-term debt, at the high end of government targets. Borrowing costs shot higher, with yields on the six-month bill at 1.580 per cent. A month ago that same note sold at 0.836 per cent.
- French consumer confidence improved marginally in April, gaining one point to 88. That remains below the key long-term average of 100. Households were optimistic about their financial situation, but put off long-term purchases. Here are 14 awful facts about the French economy >
- Nokia’s long-term debt was cut to junk status by Fitch Ratings. The Finnish company now stands at BB+ with a negative outlook. Fitch said it could reduce Nokia’s rating further if revenue and net income do not turn around.
- Facebook announced yesterday that revenue during the first quarter increased 45 per cent to $1.06 billion. Net income, however, was challenged — down to $205 million from $233 million one year ago, mainly on higher marketing and sales costs. Here’s the scariest thing for investors considering buying into the Facebook IPO >
- Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to purchase Cove Energy for $1.8 billion, to gain entry into energy fields off the coast of Mozambique. The offer was about 13 per cent higher than earlier announced, to match a rival offer.
- The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into Walmart, following reports of bribery in the company’s Mexican division. Here’s how the violation could cost Walmart $13 billion >
- Case-Shiller is out at 9:00 a.m. Expectations are for home prices in the closely watched 20-city metro areas to increase 0.2 per cent month-on-month in February, reversing a 0.4 per cent decline a month earlier. This is the single worst housing market in the U.S.
- Consumer confidence and new home sales follow at 10:00 a.m. Wall Street anticipates confidence will fall slightly, to 69.6 in April from 70.2 a month earlier. New home sales are expected to gain 1.6 per cent to 318,000. Follow both live on Money Game >
- Major earnings announcements are expected out of AT&T, 3M and Apple today. Already, AT&T and 3M have beat expectations, earning $0.60 and $1.63 per share, respectively. Expectations for Apple are at $9.95. Here’s what the nation’s largest companies are telling us about the economy >