Here’s what you need to know.
The Feds are looking into hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s assault on Herbalife. Neither Ackman nor his fund, Pershing Square, have been served a subpoena. However, the Wall Street Journal reports, “Prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and New York field office of the FBI have conducted interviews and sent document requests in recent months in connection with the investigation, which is looking into whether people, including some hired by Mr. Ackman, made false statements about Herbalife’s business model to regulators and others in order to spur investigations into the company and lower its stock price.”
Greece and its creditors are back at the negotiating table. The s0-called ‘Brussels Group,’ made up of the European Central Bank, European Union, European Stability Mechanism, and International Monetary Fund has returned to Greece in an effort to work out a deal that would give the troubled country that cash it needs to avoid default.
Russia cut rates. The Russian central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate 100 basis points to 14.00%. The rate cut comes as inflation has shown some signs of easing with the central bank noting, “The current monetary policy and low economic activity will be conducive to the slowing of annual consumer price growth.”
The IEA projects further weakness for oil. The agency warned US inventory stands at a record 468 million barrels and is nearing its capacity limit. According to the IEA, “U.S. stocks may soon test storage capacity limits. That would inevitably lead to renewed price weakness, which in turn could trigger the supply cuts that have so far remained elusive.”
A tentative deal has been reached to end the largest US refinery strike in 35 years. The reported deal would last for four years and according to Reuters, “wage increases would be 2.5 per cent the first year, 3 per cent each in years two and three, and 3.5 per cent in the fourth year.”
Iceland has ended its attempt to join the EU. The decision is in-line with the promises made during the 2013 election. “The government considers that Iceland is no longer a candidate country and requests the EU to act in accordance with this from now on,” the foreign ministry announced in a statement.
Teen retailer Aeropostale outpaced estimates. The company announced earnings of $US0.01 per share, excluding non-recurring items, versus the loss of $US0.05 per share that was expected. Revenues plunged 11.4% year-over-year to $US594 million, but topped the $US579 million that was anticipated. However, the stock is lower after the company issued downside guidance for the first quarter. Aeropostale sees a loss of between $US0.53 to $US0.61 per share.
General Motors announced a recall of 64,000 Chevy Volts. The recall was announced to update software that will prevent carbon monoxide from forming if the driver leaves the engine running. The recall is for cars made between 2011 and 2013.
Japan’s Nikkei crossed above 19,000, A 15-year high. The Nikkei (+1.4%) led Asian markets higher while Australia’s ASX (-0.6%) was a notable laggard. Stock markets across Europe hold small gains with Spain’s IBEX (+0.3%) out in front.
US economic data flows. PPI is due out at 8:30 a.m. ET and University of Michigan Sentiment will cross the wires at 10 a.m. ET. The Baker Hughes rig count data will be released at 1 p.m. ET.