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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Shares sold off during overnight trading in Asia, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 2.1 per cent. European markets followed suit, while U.S. futures point to the biggest decline of the year.
- The eurozone economy contracted by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2011, new data out of the E.U.’s statistic office shows. During the period, both exports and household spending declined 0.4 per cent. Here’s your quick guide to what will happen in Europe this year.
- Both home prices and retail sales declined in the United Kingdom, new data out of Lloyds’ Halifax mortgage unit and the British Retail Consortium shows. Housing prices fell 0.5 per cent in February. Meanwhile retail sales fell 0.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to year-ago levels.
- Greece could receive a small part of its €130 billion bailout early to help pay off private debtors it owes, the Wall Street Journal’s Alkman Granitsas reports. Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis says the money would go to the €6 billion in accumulated arrears. Take a look at the leaked memo that reveals what a Greek default would cost Europe.
- Regulators in Europe have met with banks on a potential overhaul of how the London Interbank Offered Rate is calculated. LIBOR, which impacts some $350 trillion worth of global instruments, has come under scrutiny recently as governments investigate wrongdoing by financial institutions. Regulators have alleged that banks worked in tandem to influence rates. Click here to read up on the ongoing investigation.
- Goldman Sachs disclosed that its Asian operations fell to a loss for the first time since 2008. The Wall Street titan posted a $103 million deficit as its holding in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. lost $517 million. However, shares in ICBC have rallied some 19 per cent this year, giving Goldman a nice gain at the start of 2012. Maria Bartiromo thinks Goldman will have a female leader sooner than we think.
- European lawmakers are considering a bill to cap banker bonuses, which would include a limit on the difference between lenders’ highest and lowest salaries. Leaders have been critical of the huge sums awarded to top executives during the economic downturn. A vote on the bill is expected in May.
- A major reading out of the Ivey Purchasing Managers Index in Canada will be released at 10:00 a.m. The survey of executives is seen declining to 62 from 64.1, which would indicate a slightly decelerating growth rate. A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion. Take a look at Canada before the Great Depression in the 1930s >
- Just a few days after United and Continental completed the largest passenger reservation system merger and delays racked its system, flights began to operate closer to schedule, the Wall Street Journal reports. By late Monday, nearly 85 per cent of flights departed on time at one of the airline’s five domestic hubs.
- Today voters will go to the polls for primaries in 10 states, including Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Georgia, to help decide who will win the Republican nomination for the presidency. Throughout the states, some 419 delegates are up for grabs. To capture the nomination, a candidate must win 1,144 delegates. Meet Mitt Romney’s cousins, who have thrown their support behind the Ron Paul campaign.