Here is what you need to know.
The ECB meets. The European Central Bank’s latest policy decision will cross the wires at 7:45 a.m. ET. Many analysts on Wall Street are expecting the Mario Draghi-led central bank to cut its deposit rate, or the rate the ECB pays banks to leave money with it overnight, to -0.40% from its -0.30%. Draghi’s press conference explaining the decision will begin at 8:30 a.m. ET. The euro is weaker by 0.2% at 1.0977 ahead of the decision.
Korea’s central bank kept policy on hold. The Bank of Korea left its key interest rate unchanged at 1.50% for a ninth consecutive meeting. The central bank noted the US economy appears to be on a trend toward moderate growth, but Europe is weakening and China continues to slow. As for the Korean economy, the bank said, “…the trend of decline in exports and the weakening recovery of domestic demand activities such as consumption are continuing.” South Korea’s won ended stronger by 1.1% at 1203.41 per dollar.
China’s inflation is picking up. Consumer prices in China rose 2.3% year-over-year in February, making for the biggest annual increase since July 2014. The jump from January’s print of 1.8% YoY is notable, but the numbers might be skewed as a result of the Lunar New Year. On the other hand, producer prices fell 4.9% YoY, in-line with estimates. February’s reading marked the 48th straight decline, but was the slowest pace of deflation in nine months.
Nasdaq is buying Deutsche Boerse’s options exchange. Deutsche Boerse is selling International Securities Exchange to Nasdaq for $1.1 billion, according to Reuters. ISE operates three exchanges in the US, making up about 15% of total options volume. Once the deal is approved, Nasdaq will control about 40% of US options volume. The sale is said to strengthen the possibility Deutsche Boerse will merge with the London Stock Exchange.
Volkswagen’s US CEO is out. Michael Horn has resigned as Volkswagen Group of America CEO six months after the company was rocked by its emissions scandal. Horn’s resignation comes just more than two years after taking over as US boss with the goal of trying to turnaround sagging sales. Several high-profile engineers and CEO Martin Winterkorn were among those dismissed in the fallout from the scandal.
Square had a solid quarter. In it’s first ever report as a publicly traded company, the mobile payments processor announced a loss of $0.34 per share, far worse than the $0.14 that was expected by the Bloomberg consensus. However, revenue surged 49% versus a year ago to $374 million, easily beating the $343.2 million that was anticipated. Gross payment volume, or the total dollar amount of card payment transactions Square processes, was $10.2 billion, good for a 47% YoY increase. Square said it expects revenue of $132 million to $137 million in the next quarter. The stock was up about 3% in after-hours trade.
John Gutfreund has died. John Gutfreund, the legendary banker in Michael Lewis’ “Liars Poker” died on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. He worked at Salomon Brothers for 38 years, eventually becoming CEO and turning the firm into one of the top banks on Wall Street before his resignation in 1991. Gutfreund was 86 years old.
Stock markets around the world are mixed. Germany’s DAX (+0.3%) leads the way up in Europe after China’s Shanghai Composite (-2%) paced the decline in Asia. S&P 500 futures are up 5.00 points at 1984.75.
Earnings reporting picks back up. Dollar General and Vail Resorts are among the names reporting ahead of the opening bell. Bojangles and El Pollo Loco highlight the companies releasing their quarterly results after markets close.
US economic data remains slow. Initial and continuing claims are due out at 8:30 a.m. ET before natural gas inventories and the Treasury budget cross the wires at 10:30 a.m. ET and 2 p.m. ET, respectively. Treasury will hold a $12 billion 30-year bond reopening at 1 p.m. ET. The US 30-year yield is down 1 basis point at 2.65%.