Here is what you need to know.
Greek debt talks are ongoing. On Thursday, Greece’s attempt at a six-month loan extension was rebuffed by Germany. The current bailout deal in place will expire on February 28, so the clock is ticking on Greece’s finances. Meanwhile, traders continue to buy up Greek bonds, pushing the 3 year yield down 87 basis points to 15.87%.
The European economy is doing better. The eurozone purchasing managers index (PMI) climbed to 53.5, the highest since July. Any reading above 50 signals growth, while anything below 50 signals the opposite. The Flash Services PMI numbers all outpaced estimates with France (53.4 actual v. 49.4 previous) reclaiming the expansion line. Flash Manufacturing PMI numbers for the various economies, however, were weak across the board with France (47.7 actual v. 49.2 previous) seeing notable weakness. The euro is weaker by -0.5% at $US1.1310.
UK retail sales missed the mark. Today’s data showed UK retail sales eased -0.3% month over month, falling just shy of the -0.2% mum that was expected. The figure was impacted by the drop in oil prices. Great Britain’s pound trades off -0.3% at 1.5375.
Japan’s Nikkei climbed to a fresh 15-year high. The Nikkei tacked on +0.4% during as subdued session as markets across much of the region remained shuttered for the Lunar New Year. European stock markets are mixed with Britain’s FTSE up +0.3% and Spain’s IBEX lower by -0.3%.
John Deere cuts its 2015 profit forecast. The farm equipment maker announced better than expected earnings of $US1.12 per share, which compares to analysts’ forecast for $US0.83. But for the full year, the company expects to earn $US5.21 per share, which is notably weaker than the $US5.49 analysts had been looking for.
BP has failed in its efforts to have its Gulf of Mexico oil spill fine reduced. The oil giant was looking to reduce its fine to a cap of $US3000 per barrel (currently $US4300 per barrel), but was rebuffed by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier. BP faces a fine of up to $US13.7 billion.
Danone warned 2015 will be a difficult year. The food industry leader blamed the projected weakness on a number of issues including: Europe’s debt crisis, dairy inflation, a volatile foreign exchange market, and geopolitical tensions. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The company expects its operating margin — excluding exceptional items such as gains or losses linked to acquisitions and disposals — to grow “slightly” in 2015 after posting its fifth-consecutive margin decline in 2014.”
BGP Partners agreed to buy rival GFI for $US778 million. The Wall Street Journal notes, “BGC will pay $US6.10 a share for GFI and will gain control of GFI’s board, which had been a sticking point between the two sides.”
Two cyclones are crushing Australia. Category 5 Marcia has made landfall in Queensland while Category 4 Lam touched down in the Northern Territory.
US data is limited to Flash Manufacturing PMI. The number will cross the wires at 9:45am ET. Analysts expect the main index to have slipped to 53.6 in February from 53.9 in January.