Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Markets in Japan and China were closed Monday to observe public holidays, but Korean stocks fell 0.2% while Australian stocks rose 0.6%. European markets are moving higher, with Italy leading the way, currently up 1.4%. In the United States, futures point to a positive open.
- Italian stock and bond markets are moving higher this morning after centre-left politician and new Prime Minister Enrico Letta was sworn into office over the weekend and his cabinet – which includes a record number of women – was assembled. Letta’s deputy prime minister comes from Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right party.
- In his latest article for the Wall Street Journal, Federal Reserve reporter Jon Hilsenrath highlights falling inflation indicators ahead of Wednesday’s FOMC meeting as a key reason the Fed will stay the course on its quantitative easing program. “With inflation now lower than the Fed wants,” writes Hilsenrath, “officials are likely to conclude their policies show no sign of overheating the economy.”
- A number of confidence indicators confirmed the ongoing economic malaise in the euro zone this morning. The euro zone business climate indicator fell to -0.93 from -0.75 last month, economic confidence fell to 88.6 from 90.1, industrial confidence fell to -13.8 from -12.3, services confidence fell to -11.1 from -7.0, and consumer confidence remained unchanged at -22.3.
- Iran’s oil exports fell to a 26-year low in 2012, according to a new report from the EIA. International sanctions against Iran led by the U.S. and the EU helped cause oil revenues to plummet 27.4% last year.
- Berkshire-backed Chinese car maker BYD will begin manufacturing electric buses at a facility in California in order to take advantage of U.S. federal government subsidies that could cover up to 80% of the cost of each unit. At least one analyst who spoke to the WSJ considers the plan little more than a marketing gimmick.
- Alfredo Sáenz has resigned as CEO of Santander, Spain’s largest bank, and will be replaced by Managing Director Javier Marín. While Santander did not give a reason for Sáenz’s departure, the executive has faced legal issues surrounding a 20-years-old case in which he was convicted, but later pardoned, of making false criminal accusations against indebted clients while working for a different bank.
- Personal income and spending data for March are due out at 8:30 AM ET. Consensus expectations are for a 0.4% rise in incomes after a 1.1% advance in February and no growth in spending after a 0.7% rise the month before.
- U.S. pending home sales figures for March are released at 10 AM. Economists expect sales to have risen 6.1% year over year (1.0% from the previous month) after a 5.0% gain (0.1% decline from the previous month) in February.
- The Dallas Fed’s monthly survey of regional manufacturing activity is due out at 10:30 AM. Economists predict the headline index will moderate to 5.0 from 7.4 last month, indicating a slowing pace of expansion in the region. Follow the data LIVE on Business Insider >
- BONUS: Chrissy Teigen’s dress fell apart right before this weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner.
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