Here is what you need to know.
Sweden’s central bank upped its QE program. The Riksbank held its key interest rate at -0.5%. However, the big story was the announcement it would buy an additional 45 billion kronor ($5.6 billion) worth of assets this year in an effort to “ensure the positive development of the Swedish economy and that the rising trend in inflation continues.” Additionally, the central bank says it’s “highly prepared” to increase asset purchases or cut rates further, even if it means acting between scheduled meetings. The Swedish kronor is weaker by 0.1% at 8.1185 per dollar.
The ECB meets. The European Central Bank will announce its policy decision at 7:45 a.m. ET. Expectations are for the central bank to keep both its key interest rate and asset purchase program unchanged after both cutting rates and expanding asset purchases at the March meeting. Mario Draghi’s press conference explaining the decision will begin at 8:30 a.m. ET. The euro is stronger by 0.1% at 1.1306.
Volkswagen is reportedly nearing a deal to resolve its emissions rigging scandal. Reuters reports, the German automaker is nearing a deal where it would offer to buy back 500,000 diesel cars in the United States. People familiar with the matter told Reuters, the company would increase its provisions to an unspecified double-digit number from its current €6.7 billion. Back in September, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on admissions testing for more than 11 million vehicles over the six years prior.
Yum Brands crushed earnings estimates. The fast food giant announced adjusted earnings of $0.95 per share, topping the $0.83 that was expected. Revenue was flat at $2.62 billion, just missing the $2.66 billion that was anticipated by the Bloomberg consensus. The company saw comparable store growth of 2% worldwide and total sales growth of 5%. Yum raised its profit growth guidance from 10% growth in 2016 to 12%.
American Express posted a big beat. The credit card company earned an adjusted $1.45 per share, easily beating the $1.33 that was expected by the Bloomberg consensus. Revenue slipped 2.4% to $8.1 billion, edging out the $8.05 billion that analysts were hoping for. American Express reaffirmed its full-year earnings forecast. “Despite strong competition throughout the payments industry, we generated a 4 per cent increase in FX-adjusted revenues,” CEO Ken Chenault said in the earnings release.
SecureWorks will price its IPO. It’s likely we find out the pricing of Dell’s spinoff later on Thursday. Expectations are for shares of the security firm to price in the $15.50 to $17.50 range, making SecureWorks worth as much as $1.4 billion. Dell is expected to raise between $134.3 million to $154.9 million, but says the money won’t be used to fund its acquisition of EMC. SecureWorks will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker ‘SCWX.’
Silver’s rally continues. The white metal trades higher by 1.6% at 17.41 per ounce, and is at its best level in 11 months. The rally that began in early April has tacked on more than 16%, and has brought the gold-silver ratio (the price of gold compared to the price of silver) more in line with its historical average. In a recent note, HSBC’s James Steel noted, “Silver is benefitting from a recovery in solar power demand.”
Stock markets around the world are mixed. Japan’s Nikkei (+2.7%) led the gains in Asia and France’s CAC (-0.8%) sets the tone in Europe. S&P 500 futures are little changed at 2098.25.
Earnings reporting is heavy. Alaska Air, DR Horton, General Motors, Pulte Group, Southwest Airlines, and Verizon highlight the names reporting ahead of the opening bell. Google, Microsoft, Norfolk Southern, Schlumberger, Starbucks, and Visa are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after markets close.
US economic data picks up. Thursday’s data begins to flow at 8:30 a.m. ET with the release of initial and continuing claims and the Philadelphia Fed. The FHFA Housing Price Index is due out at 9 a.m. ET and leading indicators will cross the wires at 10 a.m. ET. Finally, at 10:30 a.m. ET, natural gas inventories will be released. The US 10-year yield is up 1 basis point at 1.86%.