10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Red lanterns china spring festivalWikimedia CommonsSpring Festival in Beijing

Here is what you need to know.

Greece will reportedly ask for a loan extension. Time is of the essence as Greece’s current bailout program is scheduled to end on February 28. An agreement could buy as much as six months time. Meanwhile, Greek bond prices are up with the 3-year yield falling to 17.12%, down -112 basis points.

Ukraine is withdrawing from the Debaltseve railway hub. A reported 80% of the city has fallen to pro-Russian separatists, putting the fragile cease-fire at risk. In the currency market, Russia’s ruble is stronger by +1.2% at 62.50.

The Bank of Japan kept policy on hold and raised its economic outlook. The central bank didn’t increase its bold monetary stimulus despite inflation slipping further away from its 2% target. Notably, the central bank eliminated any mention of a tax increase from its Statement. Japan’s market didn’t move much. The yen is holding at 119.25 per dollar.

Th UK jobs market is looking good. According to the new UK jobs report, wages jumped and the unemployment rate fell to 5.7%. The British pound is stronger on the news, up +0.5% at 1.5425.

Swiss economic sentiment crated. The Swiss ZEW Economic Expectations index fell to -73 (-10.8 previous) as a result of the Swiss National Bank eliminating its EURCHF1.20 floor. EURCHF is down -0.1% at 1.0690.

Inflation rates are easing all over the world. Malaysia (1.0% year over year actual v. 2.7% year over year expected) and South Africa (4.4% YoY actual v. 5.3% YoY) were the latest inflation readings to see declines. Both readings hit multi-year lows and were largely impacted by the drop in oil prices.

Snapchat is attempting a fresh capital raise that would value the company at $US19 billion. A Bloomberg report suggests the company is looking to raise $US500 million in fresh capital.

Sony is unveiling a new strategy. Reuters reports the strategy will “focus on niche markets where sales have been strong, such as the PlayStation video game network and the camera image sensors, while cutting back on loss-making products such as TVs and smartphones.”

Markets are bid around the world. Japan’s Nikkei (+1.2%) led Asian stock markets higher while strength in Europe’s periphery has Greece’s ASE (+1.9%) and Italy’s MIB (+1.4%) out in front. Chinese markets were closed in celebration of Spring Festival.

A boatload of data is due out in the US. Building permits, PPI, and housing starts are all due out at 8:30am ET while industrial production and capacity utilization cross the wires at 9am ET and the latest FOMC minutes are scheduled for 2pm ET. Read our preview of everything in the Monday Scouting Report.

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