Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
Yanukovych may be in Moscow. A Russian news organisation reports that the ousted Ukrainian president — now a fugitive in his home country — was seen in a Moscow hotel and is now staying at the Kremlin-run “Barvikha sanatorium” outside the city, the AP reports. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian currency continues to get obliterated. The hryvnia dropped fell another 7.7% today (to 11 per dollar), and the currency has fallen 19% over the last four days.
The Royal Bank of Scotland reports big loss. RBS said it would have to cut costs after posting a $US13.64 billion loss, Reuters reports. “Let’s be quite clear. We are too expensive, we are too bureaucratic and we need to change,” new CEO Ross McEwan said. The mostly state-owned bank plans to cut costs by 40%, but still raised eyebrows by doling out $US960 million in bonuses for 2013.
German unemployment dropped to its lowest level since September 2012. “Berlin expects private consumption, which boosted growth in 2013, to increase by 1.4 per cent as workers benefit from an increase in employment to an expected record of 42.1 million this year and a nominal 2.7 per cent jump in earnings,” Reuters reports. Meanwhile, euro area business is enjoying a nice four-month winning streak right now.
A fresh read on business spending. It’s a busy day of economic data. This morning at 8:30 a.m., January durable goods orders will be released. Economists predict that nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft (core capital goods) slipped by 0.2%. “What matter in this report are core capital goods data, since they feed into our GDP tracking model — core capital goods are nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft and are a good proxy for capex,” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists. “We expect core capital goods shipments to pull back 1.0% mum as freezing weather slowed down business activity over the month and core orders declined in December. Core orders were likely weak for a second consecutive month in January, down 1.5%.”
Also at 8:30, we’ll get weekly initial jobless claims. Economists expect initial claims dropped to 335,000 from 336,000 a week ago. “Initial jobless claims probably edged lower during the Presidents’ Day holiday week,” Citi’s Peter D’Antonio wrote clients. “The weather was much fairer during the reference period, but holidays can result in aberrant swings in the data.”
Then at 11:00 a.m., the Kansas City Fed Manufacturing index will be released. Economists believe this regional activity index dropped to 2 in February from 5 the month prior.
Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.32% and Korea’s KOSPI climbed 0.39%. European markets were down, and U.S. futures pointed to a lower open.
JC Penney surges after earnings. The company reported a Q4 adjusted loss of $US0.68 per share, but the retailer’s posted its first same-store sales gain since April 2011. The stock went ripping after the bell yesterday and is trading up 18% after hours.
Yellen speaks to Congress. New Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will be testifying before the Senate Banking Committee again, delivering the second half of her semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress.
Brazil slows its interest rate hike. The country’s central bank voted to hike interest rates by 25 basis points instead of the 50 basis point bump that it had been doing six straight meetings. “While the bank did not close the door to raising rates again at its next meeting in April, many economists saw the decision as a signal that it may soon end one of the world’s most aggressive monetary tightening cycles,” Reuters reports.
Pantheon’s Ian Shepherdson previews the durable goods report:
Core capital goods orders are less susceptible to severe weather effects than the headline durable goods orders numbers, but history suggests it would be prudent to assume at least some further hit after December’s modest 0.6% decline. The broader durable goods numbers suffered more in December, with a 1.3% drop ex-transportation, so we are hoping for a broadly flat picture in today’s January report. At the headline level, though, a sharp drop in orders for Boeing aircraft is likely to inflict real damage, though the month-to-month relationship between the company’s numbers and the official data is quite fraught. We tentatively expect a 3% drop in total orders, well below the -1.5% consensus forecast, but the range of possible outcomes here is very wide. Given this uncertainty, and the unreliability of the monthly data, we don’t expect to have a very clear view of the underlying trend in orders until the spring.