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European bond yields hit all-time lows.In what appears to be a rush for safer assets, investors have been buying up bonds in Europe’s core countries, pushing Germany’s 10-year yield to an all-time low of 0.049% and the French 10-year yield to its own low of 0.331%. Meanwhile, selling has run peripheral yields to two-month highs with Italy’s 10-year yield up 11 basis points at 1.49% and Spain’s 10-year yield higher by 11 basis points at 1.46%.
Greek banks outside of Greece are being forced to cut their exposure to Greek debt. Kathimerini, one of Greece’s largest newspapers, reports, “the central banks of Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have all forced the subsidiaries of Greek banks operating in those countries to bring their exposure to Greek risk (bonds, treasury bills, deposits to Greek banks, loans etc.) down to zero in order to shield themselves and minimise the danger of contagion in case the negotiations between the Greek government and the eurozone do not bear fruit.” Greece’s 3-year yield is up 13 basis points at 26.34%.
UK employment hit a record high. The proportion of working people aged 16-64 touched a record high, 73.4%, according to data going back to 1971. The reading corresponded with a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.6%, from the previous print of 5.7%. However, there was some bad news in the report as average weekly earnings ticked up 1.7%, which was slightly below the 1.8% that was expected. Britain’s pound is higher by 0.6% at 1.5020.
Euro zone CPI came out as expected. Euro zone prices fell for a fourth straight month in March, matching the consensus forecast of -0.1 % year-over-year. Friday’s reading showed prices declined at a slower rate than in February, which saw a -0.3% YoY drop. The euro is up 0.5% at 1.0820.
General Electric posted a mixed quarter. The company announced earnings of $US0.31 per share, excluding non-recurring items, beating the consensus estimate by a penny. Revenues slid 3.1% from the prior year to $US33.1 billion, missing the consensus estimate of $US34.32 billion. The company reaffirmed its full year 2015 industrial earnings.
American Express missed on the top line. Revenues fell 2.7% YoY to $US7.95 billion, which was shy of the $US8.2 billion that analysts were looking for. The company was hurt by the loss of its exclusive c0-branding deal with Costco. On the plus side, American Express reported earnings of $US1.48 per share, easily out pacing the $US1.37 that was expected.
Etsy gained 87.5% in its debut. The stock priced Wednesday evening at $US16 per share, and finished Thursday’s session at $US30. Etsy now has a market cap of about $US3.3 billion.
Schlumberger announced more layoffs. The company reported adjusted earnings of $US1.06 per share, easily outpacing the $US0.89 that was expected. Revenues sank 19% from a year ago to $US10.25 billion, missing the consensus estimate of $US10.4 billion. However, the big story was the announcement of another 11,000 layoffs, bringing the total for 2015 to 20,000.
Global stock markets trade mixed. China’s Shanghai Composite (+2.2%) led the way in Asia while Japan’s Nikkei (-1.2%) lagged. In Europe, Italy’s MIB (-2.4%) paces the decline.
US economic data is moderate. CPI will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET before Preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment and the CB Leading Index cross the wires at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 4 basis points at 1.85%.
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