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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Overnight trading in Asia sent markets sharply higher, with Japan’s Nikkei gaining 2.4 per cent, hitting the highest level since the March 11 disaster. Markets in Europe are mixed this morning and U.S. futures point to a slightly negative open.
- French consumer confidence surged surprisingly in March to levels not seen in more than a year. The key index advanced to 87 from 82. Meanwhile in Germany confidence is expected to decline for the first time in more than seven months, GfK said. The firm’s survey fell 10 basis points to 5.9 for April.
- Retail sales stabilised in the United Kingdom this March, new data out of the Confederation of British Industries shows. A key gauge of sales moved to zero from -2. Economists had expected a decline to -5.
- Spain and Italy sold short-term debt this morning, both within targets the governments had set. Spain issued €2.588 billion in three- and six-month bills, with yields up on the longer notes. Italy sold €2.817 billion in two-year notes but saw its yield fall to 2.352 per cent from 3.013 per cent last month. Click here to see how the doomed Spanish financial sector illustrates the shortcomings of LTROs >
- Two energy companies are planning pipelines to move oil from Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, the Wall Street Journal’s Tom Fowler reports. The separate projects from Enterprise Products Partners and Enbridge would transport up to 850,000 barrels of crude a day by 2014. Here’s why the Keystone XL project is one of the most controversial in the U.S. >
- Chinese industrial profits fell 5.2 per cent over the January-February period on weakness in petrochemicals, metals and auto firms. The last time there was a year-on-year decline of this magnitude was in 2009.
- Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged for “aggravated pimping” by French prosecutors. Strauss-Kahn is also being investigated for alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. He was ordered to pay €100,000 bail.
- Home prices declined by 0.04 per cent in the U.S. this January, new data out of Standard & Poor’s shows. That’s better than the 0.3 per cent drop expected. Still to come at 10:00 a.m. is a reading of manufacturing activity by the Richmond Federal Reserve. Economists polled by Bloomberg forecast continued expansion in the fifth federal district, even as the key business index falls two points to 18. Follow the announcement live on Money Game.
- Walgreens announced earnings this morning of $0.78 per share, a penny above Wall Street consensus. Prescription sales at stores open at least a year, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of sales, declined 3.9 per cent. Home builder Lennar also beat, with earnings per share of $0.08, against estimates for $0.05.
- It’s day two of hearings on the Affordable Care Act at the Supreme Court. Justices will hear arguments on the question: Is the individual mandate constitutional? This question represents the backbone of President Obama’s healthcare law. Here’s what happened on day one at the Supreme Court.