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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were up in overnight trading with the Nikkei up 0.84 per cent on better than expected trade data. Europe is mixed. And U.S. stocks are opening modestly lower.
- Gold hit a six-month low falling below $1,600 an ounce ahead of today’s FOMC minutes. The precious metal is said to have entered a death cross where its 50-day moving average fell below the 200-day moving average, which means the commodity has fallen sharply and is expected to decline further. The drop in gold prices has been attributed to a rise in real interest rates and decline in fear. 10 enormous gold reserves >
- Japanese exports were up 6.4 per cent year-over-year in January and imports were up 7.3 per cent for the same period. It’s trade deficit widened to 1.63 trillion yen because of larger energy imports and a weaker yen.
- America’s largest luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers, reported Q1 net income of $0.03 per share, on revenue of $424.6 million. Analysts polled by Bloomberg were looking for earnings of $0.10 per share. It also reported a 49 per cent jump in new orders. There is a troubling divergence in the U.S. housing market >
- Housing starts missed expectations falling 8.5 per cent to 890,000. Meanwhile, PPI increased 0.2 per cent month-over-month.
- Dell’s earnings fell 31 per cent in the fourth quarter, as it reported adjusted earnings of $0.40 per share, just ahead of analyst expectations of $0.39 per share. Meanwhile, controversial Herbalife beat earnings expectations and raised its guidance. It now expects 2013 net sales to be up 12 – 14 per cent and projects earnings of $4.45 – $4.65 per share.
- Italian industrial orders fell 1.8 per cent month-over-month in December, and were down 15.3 per cent year-over-year.
- Two of Greece’s biggest labour unions representing 2.5 million workers were on strike on Wednesday. The workers were protesting austerity measures. There are signs that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ government is already bowing to pressure as it said Monday that it would not fire nearly 1,900 public employees despite promises to the troika to reduce spending.
- The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will issue minutes of its January meeting at 2 p.m. ET. This could be huge for gold investors, according to Deutsche Bank’s Xiao Fu. Follow the release at Business Insider >
- UK jobless claims fell by 12,500 in January to 1.54 million, beating expectations for a drop of 5,500.
- Bonus – Scarlett Johansson sparked rumours that she was engaged when she was seen wearing a diamond ring. But her rep told E! News she isn’t engaged.