10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Bionic catReuters/China Daily China Daily Information Corp – CDICA bionic cat walks at a hospital in Chongqing, China

Here is what you need to know.

Apple is in talks to launch a TV service. The Wall Street Journal suggests the service “would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox and would be available on Apple devices such as the Apple TV.”

Apple will reportedly soon allow you to trade in your non-Apple devices. According to 9to5Mac, “Apple will soon introduce a new recycling and trade-in program that will accept non-Apple smartphones, notably including Android and BlackBerry devices, in exchange for gift cards to be used toward the purchase of new iPhones.” The site suggests the new program will begin in the next few weeks.

The Bank of Japan warned of zero inflation. Japan’s central bank noted inflation could fall into negative territory because of the continued weakness in energy prices; however, they also said any return to deflation would be short lived. Decision makers voted 8-1 in favour of keeping its enormous asset purchase program unchanged at $US660 billion per year. Japan’s yen is stronger against the dollar by 0.1% at 121.25.

The Reserve Bank of Australia minutes hinted at more rate cuts. The latest minutes from Australia’s central bank showed, policymakers “saw advantages in receiving more data to indicate whether or not the economy was on the previously forecast path,” but that “further easing over the period ahead may be appropriate to foster sustainable growth in demand while maintaining inflation consistent with the target.” The RBA’s cash rate is at a record low 2.25%. Australia’s dollar saw initial weakness on the news, but is now up 0.2% against the US dollar at 0.7655.

The Federal Reserve begins its highly anticipated two-day meeting. Market participants will be parsing tomorrow’s FOMC statement to see if ‘patient’ is removed from the language characterising. Such removal would signal the central bank would be looking to raise rates as early as the June meeting. The US 10-year yield is lower by two basis points at 2.05%.

Chinese investment abroad surged. Investment overseas, excluding financials, jumped 68.2% from a year ago to $US7.25 billion. Meanwhile, foreign direct investment into China was up 0.9% year-over-year to $US8.56 billion. Reuters notes, FDI inflows into China rose an annual 1.7 per cent in 2014 to $US119.6 billion, the slowest pace in two years.” China’s yuan gain 0.2% to 6.2497 per dollar.

Germany’s ZEW Economic Sentiment hit a 13-month high. Today’s reading of 54.8 missed the 59.4 that analysts were expecting, but showed improvement from January’s 53.0. The weak euro is providing some balance to the Greek debt crisis and uncertainty in Eastern Ukraine. Germany’s 10-year yield is unchanged at 0.28%.

The State of Israel goes to the polls. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finds himself in a tight race to keep his job.

American Airlines was added to the S&P 500. The airliner replaces Allergan, who’s takeover by Activis is expected to be completed today. The addition will take place following the close of trading on March 20.

Global stock markets are mixed. South Korea’s Kospi (+2.1%) led the advance in Asia while Germany’s DAX (-1%) paces the decline in Europe. US economic data is light. Housing starts and building permits are due out at 8:30 a.m. ET.

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