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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets headed lower overnight, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng off 1.1 per cent. European shares are following that trend lower, and U.S. futures are pointing to a negative open.
- Greek workers went on strike today as they prepared to stomach new austerity measures. Athen’s transit system was brought to a standstill while the country’s ships stopped moving. The new 48-hour general strike follows a similar one brought just last Tuesday. Here’s who gets clobbered if Greece defaults.
- U.K. output prices rose by 0.5 per cent as raw material pricing increased by the same figure, 40 basis points above expectations, the country’s statistics office said this morning. Core producer prices grew by 2.4 per cent for the year following a 0.3 per cent gain in January, the slowest jump in more than a year.
- French industrial production fell greater than forecast in January, down 1.4 per cent for the month, against an expected declined of 0.8 per cent. That’s the worst reading since September. Meanwhile, Italian production jumped 1.4 per cent during the month, a surprise gain and well above expectations for a -0.5 per cent reading. Growth in capital goods orders accounted for a majority of the gain.
- Barclays, the first of Britain’s main investment banks to report earnings this season, announced that it missed consensus estimates as revenue tumbled 48 per cent in the fourth quarter. The bank posted net income for the full year of 3 billion pounds. Barclays also capped the portion of bonuses made in cash to £65,000. Take a look at cuts seen peers Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.
- RBS has dismissed at least four employees involved in the ongoing investigation into the tampering of LIBOR by financial institutions, Bloomberg’s Lindsay Fortado and Gavin Finch report. Sources told the pair that Citi and Deutsche Bank have also fired employees in the matter, which impacted rates tied to securities in excess of $350 trillion. Here’s your quick guide to the LIBOR investigation.
- U.S. economic announcements kick off at 8:30 a.m. EST with the country’s trade balance, which is forecast to increase to -$48.5 billion in December. At 9:55 a.m. EST, the University of Michigan consumer confidence reading will be released. Economists see the important metric declining in February to 74.8 from January’s final reading of 75.
- Global demand for diamonds is expected to fall in 2012, De Beers said this morning when it announced quarterly results. The company, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, said that the pace of purchases has slowed from the first half of 2011, mainly on weakness in Europe.
- LinkedIn announced that revenues doubled during its fourth quarter, while net income rose to $6.9 million, or $0.12 per share. That was above analyst forecasts for a $0.07 quarter. The social network also announced it now had more than 150 million active users.
- The pace of earnings announcements slows considerably on Friday, with NYSE Euronext the main reporter. Analysts are looking for earnings per share of $0.49 and the conference call will likely focus on the company’s plans now that it has dropped its proposal to merge with the Deustche Boerse. Here’s what we’ve already learned this earnings season.
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