10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Obama basketballReuters/Jonathan ErnstU.S. President Barack Obama gets hit on the head by a rebound while playing basketball, an exercise activity during the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House in Washington.

Before the markets open on Tuesday, here is what you need to know.

Greece is demanding war reparations of 279 billion euros from Germany. The Greek government says Germany owes 279 billion euros in war reparations as payment for Nazi-era crimes. German public broadcaster Deutsche Well notes, “Germany has rejected Athens’ demands, saying it settled the matter with a general compensation payment of 115 million deutschmarks in 1960.” Greece’s 3-year yield is sharply lower, down 165 basis points at 21.79%.

The Reserve Bank of India kept policy on hold. India’s central bank held its repo rate steady at 7.50%, as expected. In Tuesday’s statement, the Reserve Bank suggested, the “Domestic economic activity is likely to have strengthened in Q4,” and that “Inflation excluding food and fuel fell successively in the nine months till February. A large part of this disinflation has been on account of the slump in international crude oil prices feeding through into domestic prices of petrol and diesel that are included under the category transport and communication.” India’s rupee is off 0.2% at 62.32 per dollar.

The Reserve Bank of Australia held its benchmark interest rate steady. The RBA kept its key rate unchanged at a record low 2.25%. In Tuesday’s statement, the central bank noted, “Commodity prices have declined over the past year, in some cases sharply.” It continued, “Available information suggests that growth is continuing at a below-trend pace,” and that further Australian dollar depreciation “seems likely, particularly given the significant declines in key commodity prices.” Australia’s dollar is up 1.2% at .7685, aided by a strong retail sales figure.

Spain’s bill auction drew a negative yield for the first time ever. The country sold 725 million euros worth of 6-month bills at a yield of -0.002%. Spain’s 10-year yield is lower by 4 basis points at 1.17%, and nearing all-time lows.

Eurozone PMI data mostly topped estimates. Eurozone Final Services PMI printed 54.2, a whisker shy of the 54.3 that was expected. However, Spain (57.3) posted its strongest reading since January 2007 while Italy (51.6) and Germany (55.4) also topped estimates. Only France (52.4) disappointed. The euro is down 0.6% at 1.0860.

FedEx will buy TNT Express for 4.4 billion euros ($US4.8 billion). A joint statement said, the companies “reached conditional agreement on recommended all-cash public offer of 8.00 (euros) per ordinary TNT Express share.”

Samsung warned on first quarter profits. The electronics giant expects operating profits to fall to 5.9 trillion won ($US5.4 billion) in the first quarter, a 30.5% year-over-year decline. The downbeat forecast comes as Samsung finds increased competition from Apple and Chinese rivals.

Viacom announced a restructuring plan. The company announced a $US785 million charge as part of a “strategic realignment.” Exact details remain scarce, but Viacom will eliminate jobs and suspend its $US20 billion share repurchase program.

Markets around the world are open following the extended Easter holiday. China’s Shanghai Composite (+2.5%) led Asian markets higher as trade surged to a fresh 7-year high. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE (+1.4%) is out in front.

US economic data is light. The Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survery, or JOLTS report, is due out at 10 a.m. ET. Treasury will auction $US24 billion 3-year notes at 1 p.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is higher by 1 basis point at 1.90%.

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