Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mostly lower in overnight trading with the Shanghai Composite down 1.60 per cent, falling the most in five weeks on concerns that the government could introduce measures to curb property prices. Europe is higher and U.S. futures are modestly higher.
- The German ZEW index of investor confidence jumped to an almost three-year high of 48.2 in February, from 31.5 the previous month.
- Japanese finance minister Taro Aso said the country is not buying foreign bonds through a Bank of Japan fund, causing the yen to strengthen. Meanwhile, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is said to be divided over whom to pick as the next leader of the Bank of Japan.
- A study by Mandiant, an American computer security firm says an overwhelming number of cyber attacks on America are being conducted by the Chinese military. The attacks are said to be coming from a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unit 61398, in a building off Datong Road. Meanwhile, China has denied the accusations in the report and has said it is a frequent victim of cyberattacks from the U.S..
- Homebuilder sentiment fell to 46 in February as homebuilders adjusted expectations over concerns about job growth and consumer access to mortgage credit.
- European car sales fell 8.5 per cent in January, according to the Association of European carmakers. Registrations fell to 918,280 new cars, the slowest January print on record.
- Bank of America attracted a record $24.3 billion in new assets in 2012, up 28 per cent year-over-year. Assets increased in its unit servicing retirement and other employee benefit plans, according to Bloomberg. Big banks have been competing with traditional account managers like Vanguard. Dylan Grice: Here are 22 books everyone must read >
- Boeing faces a strike by union engineers during contract talks as voting by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents around 23,000 white-collar Boeing employees, ends Tuesday. This is adding to uncertainty as the company is hit by the grounding of its 787 Dreamliners over battery problems.
- Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are set to reveal a new plan today for overhauling the tax code and implementing new spending cuts, according to the WSJ. They say their proposal would cut the federal budget deficit by $2.4 trillion over 10 years, more than the White House goal of $1.5 trillion. Here come the last, dying gasps of deficit hawks >
- Microsoft’s Outlook.com has moved out of the preview stage and has gained 60 million users in six months. The company plans to move users from Hotmail to the Outlook interface by summer.
- Bonus – Fergie is expecting her first child with husband Josh Duhamel.