Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
Virtual reality. Facebook bought virtual reality headset and product developer Oculus Rift for $US2 billion. Atlantic’s Alex Madrigal says it’s a sign companies are flailing to get their hands on The Next Big Thing. “Maybe they go after a share of TV money, or bet on the Internet of Things, or get in early with the explosion of consumer robotics. These massively valuable companies need to grab some land in whatever big technology wave comes next. And they are starting to buy where they think the fertile territory is.
More wearables. Intel bought Basis Science, a wearable tech firm that makes wristbands similar to Nike’s Fitbit, for $US100 million.
Candy Crush. King, the maker of addictive gaming app Candy Crush Saga, priced its initial public offering at $US22.50 a share ahead of its public debut on the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow, CNBC reports.
Bullard. The outlook for the U.S. economy is “pretty good,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said at a Credit Suisse panel in Hong Kong Wednesday. He expects unemployment to fall below 6% by the end of the year.
Russian debt. The FT reports the value of Russian financial institutional loans has declined to their lowest level in more than three years, at 98.2% of their face value. They were already at 99.1% of their face value at the start of February. Thomson Reuters began collecting data on the loan market in October 2010.
Data. Durable goods orders for February come in at 8:30. Consensus headline is for growth to have increased 0.8% from -1%; ex-transportation for a decrease to 0.3% from 1.1%. At 9:45 we get Markit services PMI, expected to increase slightly to 54.0 from 53.3.
Markets. Stocks and futures were green across the world, led by Korea’s Kospi at 1.19%. The Aussie dollar is rounding its second month of strong gains against the greenback, and was up 0.71% today.
Italian consumers. March consumer confidence in Italy jumped 4.2 points to 101.7, the highest reading since June 2011. January retail sales fell 0.9%, less than expected.
ECB. The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Blackstone says European Central Bank officials are sending “strong signals” that more aggressively dovish monetary will come to fight off deflation. “The possible tools, cited by some top policy makers from different parts of the euro zone, include effective negative interest rates — meaning rates so low that commercial banks would essentially pay the ECB to park their extra cash overnight. They also include purchases of government or private-sector debt to hold down long-term rates and spur lending.” The agency next convenes April 3.
Poison pill antidote? Dan Loeb’s Third Point is suing Sotheby’s, of which it is the largest shareholder, to strip the auction off its poison pill clause designed to ward off activist shareholders, with the broader goal of making the measures illegal nationwide.