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President Obama gave his final State of the Union address. Obama said his number one priority is the fight against ISIS and other terrorists. Other topics included immigration, gun control, equal pay for equal work and raising the minimum wage.
China’s trade surplus widened. China’s exports fell 1.4% compared to last year, which was far better than the 8% drop that was anticipated. Imports tumbled 7.6%, leaving China’s trade surplus at $60.09 billion, far above the $53 billion that was expected. A Chinese customs official blamed weak external demand for the drop in exports. The Chinese yuan was little changed at 6.5749 per dollar.
Eurozone industrial production disappointed. Eurozone industrial production fell 0.7% month-over-month in November, missing the 0.3% drop that economists were forecasting. Year-over-year data also disappointed, growing 1.1% compared to the 1.3% that was expected. Portugal posted the steepest drop, plunging 4.9% YoY. The euro is down 0.3% at 1.0825.
Greece received a bid from China for a stake in one of its ports. China’s Cosco Group was the only bidder for a majority stake in debt-ridden Port of Piraeus. Greece’s privatization fund has asked China to submit an improved offer by next week, reports the Associated Press.
IMF head Christine Lagarde warned on more US rate hikes. Christine Lagarde said if Fed rate hikes are too aggressive they risk hurting emerging markets. “The key issue going forward will be the pace of normalization. We agree that it should be gradual as announced, as stressed actually by the Fed, and based on clear evidence of firmer wage or price pressures,” Lagarde told a banking conference in Paris. According to Reuters, the IMF head also warned on the potential for volatility in the foreign exchange market.
Ford announced a special dividend. The automaker announced a $0.25 per share special dividend, in addition to its regular $0.15 per share dividend. According to Ford, the $1 billion supplemental dividend “reflects the company’s strong financial performance in 2015 and robust cash and liquidity levels.” The company also announced it expects to earn $10 billion in 2016, about the same as in 2015, Reuters says.
3 Italian groups filed anti-trust complaints against McDonald’s. Codacons, Movimento Difesa del Cittadino and Cittadinanzattiva say McDonald’s franchise system harms the consumer, and they want EU regulators to examine their claims. AFP reports, the groups believe McDonald’s forces franchises into long contracts and charges them rent well above market value. According to the groups, McDonald’s margins on real estate in France are between 63% and 77%. If found guilty McDonald’s could be forced to pay up to 10% of global sales and have to restructure its business.
CSX beat on earnings. The railroad giant announced earnings of $0.48 per share, edging out the $0.46 Bloomberg consensus. Revenue tumbled 12.9% to $2.78 billion, missing the $2.84 billion that was expected. “With negative global and industrial market trends projected for 2016, full-year earnings per share are expected to be down compared to 2015,” Chairman and CEO Michael Ward said in the earnings release.
Stocks around the globe are up. France’s CAC (+1.4%) leads the gains in Europe after Japan’s Nikkei (+2.9%) paced the advance in Asia. China’s Shanghai Composite (-1.9%) lagged. S&P 500 futures are up 11.25 points at 1936.25.
US economic data remains light. Crude oil inventories will be released at 10:30 a.m. ET before the Fed’s Beige Book and the Treasury budget are released at 2 p.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 3 basis points at 2.14%.
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