Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
— Congress has officially avoided another government shutdown — for now. The Senate on Thursday passed the $US1 trillion omnibus spending bill (that will keep the government open through September) 72-26, days after the House also easily passed the bill. President Obama has said he will sign it.
— President Obama will speak today about government surveillance in the wake of the NSA leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden. White House aides say it’s a coincidence, but Obama picked an interesting date for his speech — on January 17, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his famous “military-industrial complex” warning. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” Eisenhower said then. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Go figure.
— Just as it looked like anti-government protests were calming in Bangkok, an explosive device tossed into a protest wounded 36, Reuters reports. “Police said the device was hurled at protesters marching with their leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, near Chulalongkorn University in the city centre,” according to the report. Protestors have called for the current prime minister to step down, citing corruption.
— It’s a busy day of economic data again. At 8:30 a.m. ET, we’ll get data on U.S. housing starts and building permits for the month of December. Economists expect starts fell to an annualized pace of 991,000. “Construction payrolls dropped in December and housing permits and new home sales slid back some in November,” wrote Wells Fargo’s John Silvia. “However, a low supply of new homes and a growing number of consumers planning to purchase a home in the next six months should keep starts at a 986,000-unit pace.”
— At 9:15 a.m., industrial production data will be released. Economists are looking for a 0.3% increase in production activity in December. “We look for flat industrial production in December, with growth restrained by a pullback in utilities output,” Citi’s Peter D’Antonio wrote clients. “The estimated decline in utilities may seem odd given the cold weather in December, which should have necessitated a lot of heating fuels. However, November actually was even colder seasonally adjusted. The drop in utilities says more about how cold November was and the extreme amount of electricity and natural gas that was produced in that month than about weather in December.”
— At 9:55 a.m., the Michigan consumer confidence figure will be released. Economists expect that the preliminary reading on consumer sentiment will climb to 83.5 in January. “The positive effects of an improving labour market and rising home values should outweigh potential drags on consumer sentiment in early January,” wrote Credit Suisse economists. “The negatives include somewhat higher prices at the gas pump and stalled gains in the stock market.”
— Finally at 10:00 a.m., we’ll get the job openings (“JOLTS”) report, giving us a better idea of hires, quits, and layoffs. In the past, new Fed chair Janet Yellen has cited the report as one an important indicator of labour market health.
— Asian markets were relatively flat in overnight trading. Japan’s Nikkei was down 0.08%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.64%, and Korea’s KOSPI fell o.66%. In Europe, U.K. retail sales grew 5.3% in Dember from the year prior. That’s the fastest sales growth in more than nine years, according to the BBC. European markets were slightly higher, and U.S. futures were in the green.
— Intel’s earnings disappointed yesterday, sending the stock down a few percentage points in after-hours trading. The company reported earnings of $US0.51 per share, slightly below analysts’ consensus estimate of $US0.52 EPS, but did beat on revenue. “We had a solid fourth quarter with signs of stabilisation in the PC segment and financial growth from a year ago,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said.
— Morgan Stanley will report its fourth quarter earnings today. Analysts are looking for earnings per share of $US0.45 and revenue of $US8 billion. As The Street notes, investors are expecting an earnings beat for Morgan Stanley after Bank of America saw a 19% increase in Q4 trading revenue. Elsewhere, Shell indicated it will miss earnings expectations by $US1 billion and Nintendo said it expects a $US336 million operating loss for the year to the end of march on weaker holiday demand.