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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Overnight trading in Asia saw markets sell-off, with Japan’s Nikkei shedding 0.7 per cent. European markets are marginally higher and U.S. futures point to a positive open.
- The U.K. economy contracted at a greater pace than originally estimated, the Office for National Statistics said today. During the final quarter of 2011, GDP declined by 0.3 per cent, 10 basis points more than an earlier reading.
- The French, British, and American governments are considering a coordinated release of crude reserves, the Financial Time’s Tom Burgis reports. French Energy Minister Eric Besson said his country was “favourable” on the deal and was waiting on word from the International Energy Agency. Remember, the U.S. is not the biggest winner in the shale revolution.
- Italian business confidence surged off of two-year lows in March, with a key manufacturing-sentiment index rising to 92.1 from 91.7. Economists polled by ForexTV expected a reading of 91.7.
- BATS Global Markets chairman and CEO Joe Ratterman was stripped of his position on the company’s board yesterday, following the error that led to the withdrawal of BATS IPO. Ratterman will remain chief executive. Click here to read why the company ultimately pulled its public offering.
- Goldman Sachs agreed to a change in its board structure to pacify a union pension fund that was pushing a proposal that could have ended Lloyd Blankfein’s tenure as chairman. The Wall Street Journal’s Liz Rappaport reports the deal with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will have Goldman pick a new lead director.
- Sharp Corp. shares hit a daily trading limit in Tokyo, ending bid-only and limit-up at ¥570, a 15 per cent increase. The stock rallied after the company announced it would form an alliance with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the largest electronics manufacturing service provider.
- Durable goods orders increased by 2.2 per cent in February, the Census Bureau reported today. That is below expectations that called for a 3.0 per cent gain. Nondefense capital goods orders excluding air increased 1.2 per cent, 30 basis points shy of estimates.
- Discount retailer Family Dollar reported earnings per share of $1.15 this morning, better than the $1.13 the Street called for. Still scheduled for the day: software provider Red Hat. Analysts expect earnings per share of $0.27 at the company.
- It’s day three at the Supreme Court, as the country’s highest court hears arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The question the court will be asking: If the individual mandate is found unconstitutional, must the rest of the health law fall as well? People are already saying that President Obama’s law was massacred at the court yesterday.