10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell

Lena Headey Queen Cersei

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

  • Markets in Asia were mixed in overnight trading. The Japanese Nikkei jumped 2.2 per cent, but the Shanghai Composite fell 0.1 per cent. European markets are mostly higher, with Spain and Italy leading the way, both up 1.6 per cent. In the United States, futures point to a positive open.
  • The yen has resumed its downward trajectory after the Bank of Japan gave markets a big positive surprise overnight at new Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s first meeting. The BoJ said it would double its holdings of government bonds and ETFs in order to reach its 2 per cent inflation target within two years.
  • Euro zone services PMIs painted a bleak picture of the state of the services sector in March. The euro zone composite index fell to 46.5 from 47.9 in February, indicating an accelerating pace of contraction (any number below 50 on the index signals contraction mode). France’s services PMI fell to 41.3, a 49-month low, and Germany, the outperformer in Europe, saw its services PMI fall sharply to 50.9 from 54.7 in February. Italy’s services PMI actually rose to 45.5 from 43.6, but still indicates a moderate contraction.
  • The French government issued 10-year debt at a record low yield of 1.94 per cent this morning. Despite the bleak economic data out of France in recent months, government bonds have staged a big rally since late February, sending yields plummeting.
  • The Bank of England elected to leave the benchmark interest rate on hold at 0.5 per cent and the target size of the asset purchase program unchanged at £375 billion at its monthly policy meeting today. Not much more is expected of the central bank until incoming Governor Mark Carney takes over this summer, which is likely to usher in significant changes to BoE monetary policy.
  • The ECB will announce its monthly interest rate decision at 7:45 AM ET. The near unanimous consensus expectation is that the ECB will leave the benchmark refinancing rate unchanged at 0.75 per cent and the deposit rate unchanged at 0 per cent. ECB President Mario Draghi will hold a press conference at 8:30. Observers will be listening for his thoughts on the crisis in Cyprus, a potential bailout of Slovenia in the future, and the recent deterioration in economic data around the euro zone.
  • Australia reported strong retail sales for the month of February, up 1.3 per cent. Economists had predicted sales would rise only 0.3 per cent after a 1.2 per cent advance in January. Building approvals also surprised to the upside, rising 3.1 per cent in February versus the 2.5 per cent gain expected by economists.
  • Mt. Gox, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, suffered an outage yesterday afternoon, sending the price of the virtual currency reeling after a major surge in recent days. The outage followed an attack on Bitcoin service Instawallet earlier in the day, highlighting one of the biggest problems with Bitcoin: confidence.
  • The Challenger grey job cuts report for the month of March is out at 7:30 AM ET. In February, layoffs rose 7 per cent year over year after dropping 24 per cent year over year in January.
  • The big economic data release of the day in the United States is weekly jobless claims figures, due out at 8:30 AM ET. Economists predict initial claims fell to 353,000 in the week ended March 30, down from 357,000 new claims the week before. Continuing claims are expected to be unchanged at 3.05 million. Follow the data LIVE on Business Insider >
  • BONUS: Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey says she has less than $5 in her bank account, according to TMZ.

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