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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Overnight trading in Asia was mostly mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei up 0.1 per cent. European indexes are modestly higher this morning, while U.S. futures point to a positive open.
- German business confidence hit an eight-month high, the Ifo institute announced today. The index measuring economic sentiment moved to 109.8 in March, up 10 basis points from February’s revised reading. Economists had predicted the index to remain flat at 109.6
- Italian President Mario Monti voiced fresh concern over Spain’s economic condition, adding to a number of economists who see the nation as the next big danger to eurozone progress. In a response to a question, Monti said, “This is causing us big concern because [Spain’s] yields are rising and it wouldn’t take much to recreate trends that could spread to us through contagion.” Here’s how the doomed Spanish financial sector shows the shortcomings of LTROs >
- The U.S. Treasury has told Ally Financial executives that they should pursue a breakup and sale of the company to repay the $17.2 billion investment the government made in the firm, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey McCracken and Dakin Campbell report. Treasury officials believe an I.P.O. would be ill received by the market in the near future.
- China Construction Bank said net income in the final three months of 2011 surged 23 per cent to 30.2 billion yuan, or $4.8 billion. However, the bank was severely impacted by a jump in non-performing loans and lower fee generation.
- The head of J.P. Morgan’s Asia Pacific region will leave the company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Gaby Abdelnour has been with the firm since 1998, and led the Asia Pacific group since 2006. Over that period net income tripled while top line results doubled in the region. The departure hasn’t caused nearly as much of a stir as this man’s exit.
- Yahoo announced it would name three new independent directors to its board in April, as it tries to pacify investors during its turnaround. Already, there’s a civil war brewing at the company over its new CEO >
- The Hunger Games set a new spring opening box office record, pulling in some $155 million at North American theatres over its first weekend. The long-hyped drama earned an additional $59.3 million from international markets. After just two days in release, the film is now Lions Gate’s highest-grossing movie of all time.
- Major U.S. economic announcements kick off at 10:00 a.m. with Pending Home Sales. Economists polled by Bloomberg forecast the key metric will advance 1.0 per cent month-on-month. A reading of manufacturing activity from the Dallas Federal Reserve follows at 10:30 a.m. Consensus is for the main index to decline 1.8 points to 16.0 in March. Follow both live on Money Game.
- A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck south-central Chile at 10:37 p.m. EST on Sunday evening, the U.S. Geological Survey said. This impacts the same region last hit by an 8.8 earthquake in 2010 that caused more than 500 deaths and billions in damages.