Here is what you need to know.
Norway’s central bank cut rates. In an expected move, the Norges Bank lowered its key interest rate 25 basis points to 0.50%. Governor Oystein Olsen suggested further rate cuts this year are possible, and that the central bank can’t “exclude the possibility that the key policy rate may turn negative.” Norway’s krone is stronger by 0.7% at 8.3965 per dollar.
The Bank of England meets. The BOE is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.50% and its asset purchase program at £375 billion. Traders will be paying close attention to the votes, which as of late have been unanimously in favour of holding policy unchanged. The decision will cross the wires at 8 a.m. ET. The British pound is up 0.6% at 1.4344 ahead of the announcement.
Australia’s unemployment rate fell. The Australian economy added 300 jobs in February, well shy of the 12,000 job gain that was expected by the Bloomberg consensus. However, the news was better below the surface with full-time employment climbing by 15,900 as part-time employment fell by 15,600. This helped push Australia’s unemployment rate down to 5.8% from its 6.0% print in January. The Australian dollar is up 1.1% at .7638, an eight-month high.
Commodities are surging. Wednesday’s dovish Fed meeting has put a bid behind commodities. Inside the commodity complex, precious metals are seeing the biggest gains with gold up 3.4% at $1271 per ounce and silver higher by 3.6% at $15.78 per ounce. The gains in the underlying metals have benefited the miners, which are up as much as 10% in Europe.
FedEx beat on the top and bottom lines. The company announced adjusted earnings of $2.51 per share, easily beating the $2.34 that was expected. Revenue jumped 8% to $12.70 billion, topping the $12.36 billion that was anticipated by the Bloomberg consensus. FedEx raised full-year forecast to earnings of $10.70-$10.90 per share, up from its range of $10.40-$10.90. The stock was higher by 5% in after-hours trade.
Shareholders of JPMorgan and Citigroup will vote on breakup plans. The Wall Street Journal reports, Citigroup and JPMorgan shareholders will participate in proxy votes to decide whether or not to break the banks into smaller pieces. Bartlett Naylor, a shareholder in both Citigroup and J.P. Morgan, requested the votes, according to the WSJ.
Bill Ackman’s fund has had a terrible start to the year. Hedge fund titan Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital is down 26.4% through March 15, according to his latest performance update. Holdings Valeant (-68% YTD) and Platform (-38% YTD) are his worst performing holdings, and his ‘short’ bet against Herbalife has gone 7% in the wrong direction so far this year. In 2015, Ackman’s fund suffered its worst year in history, losing 20.5%.
Global stock markets trade mixed. China’s Shanghai Composite (+1.2%) led the way up in Asia and Germany’s DAX (-2.2%) lags in Europe. S&P 500 futures are lower by 8.25 points at 2009.00.
Earnings reporting is light. Adobe Systems and Aeropostale are among the names reporting after markets close.
US economic data continues to flow. Initial and continuing claims, the Philadelphia Fed and current account balance will all be released at 8:30 a.m. ET before leading indicators crosses the wires at 10 a.m. ET. Natural gas inventories are due out at 10:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 6 bps at 1.85%.