10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell

wacoA damaged vehicle is seen after an explosion at a fertiliser plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013.

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

  • Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading with the Nikkei down 1.2%, falling below its five-day moving average. Europe is higher and U.S. futures are higher.
  • Over 100 people are reported to be injured, and five to 15 are expected to be dead, after a massive explosion at a fertiliser plant in Texas last night. The USGS said the blast was so big it registered as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.
  • Chinese home prices were up 3.6% on the year in March, compared with 2.1% the previous month. Home prices were up in 68 of 70 cities that are surveyed. First tier cities saw a surge in prices. In Guangzhou, prices surged 11.1%, Beijing prices were up 8.6%, and Shanghai prices were up 6.4%. 29 crazy things that only happen in China >
  • Initial jobless claims are out at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by the Philadelphia Fed Survey for April at 10 a.m. ET. Consensus is for initial claims to rise to 347,000, and for the general business conditions index level to rise to 3.3. Follow the release at Business Insider >
  • In earnings news, Morgan Stanley reported Q1 earnings of $ 0.61 per share, beating expectations of $0.57 per share. It reported revenue of $8.2 billion, below expectations of $8.35 billion. PepsiCo is expected to report earnings of $0.71 per share.
  • Germany’s lower house of parliament approved a €10 billion bailout for Cyprus. 407 of 602 policymakers voted in favour of the aid. In a separate vote, the German parliament also approved seven-year loan extensions for Ireland and Portugal. How Portugal became a horrific economic mess >
  • Japanese exports climbed 1.1% year-over-year in March, beating expectations for a 0.2% increase. The trade deficit narrowed to 362.4 billion yen, from 777.5 billion yen in February.
  • EBay reported Q1 revenue of $3.75 billion, missing expectations for $3.77 billion. It also lowered Q2 guidance to earnings per share of $0.61 – $0.63  per share, on revenue of $3.8 billion – $3.9 billion, against expectations of $0.66 per share, on revenue of $3.95 billion.
  • The People’s Bank of China plans to widen its yuan trading band soon. The current trading band is 1% of the daily reference rate. The central bank’s vice governor Yi Gang is quoted by the WSJ as saying, “The exchange rate is going to be more market-oriented.” Everything you need to know about the Chinese renminbi >
  • UK retail sales including fuel fell 0.7% month-over-month in March. This was worse than expectations for a 0.6% decline. Cold weather was blamed for the decline in sales of clothing and household products.

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