Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:
The European Central Bank may cut rates. ECB president Mario Draghi will announce the bank’s latest policy decision and economic projections this morning. In October, Draghi said it was possible to lower rates even further and extend the bank’s bond-buying program. The euro traded near an eight-month low against the dollar ahead of the ECB’s statement and press conference.
Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is ready to raise rates. Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, she said the Fed could run the risk of overreacting later if it delayed hiking its benchmark rate for much longer. She acknowledged progress in the labour market, and said she expected inflation to rise towards the Fed’s 2% target. Yellen will testify at the Congressional Joint Economic Committee from 10 a.m. ET today. The Fed’s interest-rate decision, widely expected to be a hike, is due in two weeks.
Standard and Poor’s cut the ratings of eight major American banks. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley were among the firms whose longterm ratings were lowered one level to BBB+. S&P said it’s uncertain that the government would provide big banks the kind of extraordinary bailout support they got in the last financial crisis.
China’s services sector slowed in November. The Caixin/Markit purchasing manager’s index of business activity for services fell to 51.2 from 52.0. On Tuesday, China’s official manufacturing PMI showed the sector contracted, indicated by the sub-50 print of 49.6.
OPEC may decide to cut its output. Iranian news agency Shana reported Wednesday that most members of the oil cartel, except Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states, were willing to cut production. OPEC meets in Vienna on Friday and will discuss production levels. Iran had said it would boost production by 500,000 barrels per day once sanctions are lifted, likely early next year. Crude oil prices fell below $40 per barrel again on Wednesday, after data showed that US oil inventories rose for a 10th straight week.
Verizon, News Corp, Comcast, and Disney are among those being reported as potential buyers of Yahoo’s internet business. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Yahoo’s board was considering a sale of the core unit, amid a protracted turnaround plan by CEO Marissa Meyer. The Wall Street Journal reported that a person in the know listed TPG Capital as a potential private buyer. The internet business is valued at as much as $3.9 billion excluding cash, according to The Journal.
Target has agreed to pay $39.4 million in settlement with banks over its 2013 data breach. The retailer filed the settlement on Wednesday. It would resolve class-action claims from lenders that may make Target responsible for costs to pay back fraudulent charges and issue new debit and credit cards, according to Reuters. Target said 70 million people may have had their personal data stolen.
Unemployment in France is worse than the entire eurozone for the first time in eight years. The latest quarterly rate was 10.6%, according to France’s statistical agency. The pace of the country’s recovery since the recession has trailed peers like the UK and Germany.
Global markets are rallying: Near 7:15 a.m. ET, France’s CAC was up 65 points, or 1.3%. The Euro Stoxx 50 was up 40 points, or 1.16%, and the Dax was 102 points higher, up by just under 1%. Dow futures were up 83 points.
In economic data, Challenger Grey job cuts are due at 7:30 a.m. ET, and the ECB’s statement near 7:45 a.m. Initial jobless claims for last week cross at 8:30 a.m., Markit US services PMI at 9:45, and ISM non-manufacturing and factory orders together at 10:00 a.m.