10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell

Jessica Alba

Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Markets in Asia were mostly lower in overnight trading. The Japanese Nikkei retreated 0.3% while the Shanghai Composite fell 1.0%. European markets are in the red across the board with Spain leading the charge lower, currently down 1.2%. In the United States, futures point to a negative open.
  • Japanese consumer prices (CPI) fell 0.9% year over year in March, highlighting the country’s ongoing struggle with deflation. Economists had predicted prices would fall 0.8% after a 0.7% decline in February. Consumer prices excluding food and energy fell 0.8%, right in line with expectations.
  • Following its policy meeting Friday, the Bank of Japan upped its inflation forecasts, projecting that it would hit its 2% inflation target within two years. The forecast relies on the assumption that the Japanese economy will grow above its potential and return to recovery in mid-2013. The yen strengthened significantly following the CPI release and has been unable to break back above 99 to the U.S. dollar this morning.
  • Equity mutual funds saw their first week of outflows since the stock market rally began in November 2012. $3.7 billion flowed out of equity mutual funds, while bond mutual funds took in $7.6 billion of investor money. Commodity funds were eviscerated following the sharp sell-off, losing 1.3% of total assets under management to redemptions this week. BofA Merrill Lynch strategist Michael Hartnett says the “mid-April plunge in gold prices [is] the most likely culprit for the first week of equity redemptions since November.”
  • Norway’s oil fund – the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund – shifted further into stocks and out of bonds in the first quarter, increasing its weighting toward equities to 62.4% from 61.2%. The fund said its government bond holdings returned only 0.6%, making them the worst-performing part of its fixed income portfolio in Q1.
  • Amazon reported better-than-expected first quarter earnings ($0.18 versus $0.10) Thursday after the closing bell, but revenues came in light ($16.07 billion versus $16.14 billion).  Operating income was $181 million versus analysts’ expectations for $96.8 million. The market reaction was muted in after-hours trading.
  • Starbucks announced earnings of $0.48 per share and revenues of $3.6 billion, right in line with analysts’ estimates. Same-store sales rose 7% in the U.S. and advanced 8% in the China/Asia-Pacific region, but fell 2% in Europe. However, the coffee giant offered earnings guidance for the coming quarter below analysts’ expectations.
  • Billionaire investor George Soros reported a 7.9% passive stake in embattled retailer JC Penney, according to an SEC filing made Thursday afternoon. Shares jumped 7.1% in after-hours trading on the news.
  • The first estimate for first quarter U.S. GDP is released at 8:30 AM ET. Economists expect the American economy to have expanded 3.0% in Q1 after growing only 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Personal consumption growth is expected to have risen to 2.8% from Q4’s 1.8% growth rate.
  • The University of Michigan’s consumer confidence survey results for the month of April are due out at 9:55 AM. Economists predict the headline index will come in at 73.5 – above the flash estimate of 72.3 published two weeks ago, but below the March reading of 78.6. Follow the data LIVE on Business Insider >
  • BONUS: Jessica Alba described her experience wearing a double corset to lose weight as “brutal.”

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