Here is what you need to know.
China weakened its currency for the third straight day. The People’s Bank of China lowered its yuan fix to 6.4010, 1.1% weaker than on Wednesday. The fix is now at levels last seen in October 2012. Many speculate the movements in the fix are being done to combat a slowdown in the Chinese economy as a weaker yuan makes its exports more attractive. Traders will be watching the PBOC at 9:15 p.m. ET, which is when the alterations to the fix have occurred in each of the past three days.
Asian central banks kept policy on hold. The central banks of both the Philippines and South Korea opted to stand pat. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas held its benchmark interest rate at 4.00%, as expected, and lowered its inflation outlook. Elsewhere, the Bank of Korea kept its key rate at 1.5% after cutting to a record low at the June meeting.
Greece’s economy posted surprise Q2 growth. The Greek economy grew at a surprise 0.8% clip in the second quarter, stunning economists who were expecting a contraction of 0.8%. “We saw a freak result for Greece GDP like this back in 2010 and the reason then was a sharp fall in imports which boosted the numbers,” economist Shaun Richards tweeted. “Cash limits and capital controls were only in place for a very small fraction of Q2, but Q3’s figures are much more likely to be impacted badly by them,” according to Business Insider’s Mike Bird. Greece’s 2-year yield is higher by 76 basis points at 14.49%.
Softbank upped its stake in Sprint. Japan-based telecom provider Softbank has purchased an additional $US87 million worth of Sprint shares, adding to its already massive 80% stake in the company. Reuters reports the additional purchases won’t increase Softbank’s stake in Sprint to more than 85%. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son appeared on Sprint’s conference call noting his company is working with Sprint on its “network strategy to enhance Sprint’s competitiveness and reduce its capital expenditures and operating costs.”
Cisco topped estimates. The network equipment manufacturer announced earnings of $US0.59 per share, topping Wall Street expectations by three cents. Revenue edged up 3.9% to $US12.8 billion, outpacing the $US12.65 billion that analysts were anticipating. “I’m stepping into the CEO role at an incredibly exciting time for Cisco. We closed out our fiscal year with record revenues and record non-GAAP EPS, for both Q4 and FY15. I’m particularly pleased with the strong growth of deferred revenue which shows we are very effectively driving our business to a more predictable software-based business model, at the same time as growing revenues and earnings,” Chuck Robbins said in a statement.
Houlihan Lokey IPOs. The boutique investment bank saw its initial public offering price at $US21 per share, which was a dollar below the expected range. The company raised $US220 million through the offering and is now valued at approximately $US1.4 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Houlihan shares will trade under the ticker ‘HLI.’
Golfer Phil Mickelson is being investigated for insider trading. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan US attorney’s office are investigating whether Phil Mickelson received a tip about Dean Foods spinning off its Whitewave Foods division. The WSJ says Dean Foods ex-Chairman Thomas Davis, who unexpectedly resigned on Friday, and Las Vegas bettor William “Billy” Walters are also part of the investigation. Sources tell the WSJ, the last year’s related investigation of activist investor Carl Icahn is “largely dormant.”
Stock markets around the world are higher. France’s CAC (+1.8%) leads the way higher in Europe after China’s Shanghai Composite (+1.8%) paced the gains in Asia. S&P 500 futures are up 5.75 points at 2090.00.
US economic data is heavy. Initial and continuing claims, retail sales and import/export prices all cross the wires at 8:30 a.m. ET while business inventories is due out at 10 a.m. ET and natural gas inventories will be released at 10:30 a.m. ET. The US Treasury will hold a $US16 billion 30-year bond auction at 1 p.m. ET. The US 30-year yield is 1 basis point at 2.85%.
Earnings releases are light. Kohl’s and Tribune Media are among the names scheduled to report ahead of the opening bell. Applied Materials, El Pollo Loco, King Digital and Nordstrom highlight the names set to release their quarterly reports after markets close.