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South Korea unexpectedly cut rates. The Bank of Korea cut its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points to a record low 1.25%. The rate cut was the first since June 2015, and comes as “exports have continued their trend of decline.” Thursday’s decision, while unexpected, wasn’t completely out of left field as the bank appointed four new board members in March, at least a few of which are considered to be dovish. This was their second meeting. The South Korean won ended little changed at 1155.89.
New Zealand kept policy on hold. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand held its key interest rate unchanged at 2.25%, as expected. The bank warned, “The exchange rate is higher than appropriate given New Zealand’s low export commodity prices,” and said it expects inflation to pick up as a result of accommodative monetary policy. The New Zealand dollar is stronger by 1.3% at .7104.
Consumer prices in China rose lose than expected. China’s CPI rose 2% year-over-year in May, missing the 2.3% gain that economists had forecast. The reading was the lowest since January and came as food inflation hit 5.9%. Meanwhile, producer prices fell 2.8%, beating the 3.3% drop that was anticipated. May’s print marked the smallest drop since November 2014.
George Soros is trading again. Legendary investor George Soros is back, reports Gregory Zuckerman at The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Soros is bearish on the global economy and has placed short bets against stocks while also buying gold. Soros is the second most successful money manager of all-time, according to London-based fund of funds LCH Investments, trailing only Ray Dalio.
Restoration Hardware warned. The luxury-furnishings retailer announced an adjusted loss of $0.05 per share, which was worse than the $0.05 gain that was expected. Revenue edged up 4% to $455.5 million, topping the Bloomberg consensus of $452.8 million. Restoration Hardware slashed its full-year adjusted EPS forecast to a range of $1.60 to $1.80, missing the $2.66 that Wall Street was anticipating. Shares were down as much as 14% in after-hours trade.
Europe had its biggest IPO of the year. Wind farm giant DONG Energy opened to gains as large as 10% in Copenhagen. DONG has built more than a quarter of the world’s offshore wind farms, according to Reuters. Thursday’s IPO values the company at 98 billion crowns ($15 billion).
Goldman Sachs is cutting staff in Russia. The investment bank has reportedly cut traders, back office staff, and investment bankers in Russia. A source told Reuters as much as 10% of Goldman’s Russia staff could be let go while another said more cuts are likely by the end of the summer.
Stocks everywhere are lower. Germany’s DAX (-1.3%) paces the decline in Europe after Japan’s Nikkei (-1%) led the losses in Asia. China’s Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng were closed for Dragon Boat Festival. S&P 500 futures are down 7.25 points at 2110.75.
Earnings reports trickle out. J.M. Smucker and Vail Resorts are among the names set to report ahead of the opening bell and H&R Block will release its quarterly results after markets close.
US economic data remains light.Initial claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET and wholesale inventories will cross the wires at 10 a.m. ET. Then, at 10:30 a.m. ET, natural gas inventories will be announced. The US 10-year yield is down two basis points at 1.68%, its lowest since February.
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