10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Here is what you need to know.

Janet Yellen’s speech pushed back rate hike expectations. On Tuesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke in front of the Economic Club of New York, noting caution was “especially warranted” and that “the pace of rate increases is now expected to be somewhat slower.” Those words pushed back market expectations of the next Fed rate hike. Ahead of the speech, the market saw a 49.1% chance the next hike would occur in July, but those odds fell to 39.5% as traders responded to Yellen. According to Bloomberg data, November is the first meeting with a better than 50% chance of a Fed rate hike with those odds at 53.6%.

Chinese consumer confidence surged. The Westpac-MI consumer sentiment index climbed to 118.1 in March, the second highest level since May 2014. A reading of 100 shows an equal amount of optimists and pessimists. The internals of the report were strong as all five subindicies saw gains. Most impressive was the strength in current household finances and durable buying conditions. “The PBOC’s latest RRR cut and the Chinese authorities’ commitment to support growth at the March NPC [National People’s Conference], were at least in part behind a more optimistic outlook for the economy,” Westpac said.

Japan’s industrial production falls. Industrial production in Japan slumped 6.2% month-over-month in February, which was worse than the 5.9% drop that had been expected by the Bloomberg consensus. The drop in output came amid weak demand for exports, and as an explosion at a steel mill froze domestic car production at Toyota Motor Corp. February’s drop was the biggest since the twin natural disasters of March 2011. The Japanese yen is weaker by 0.3% at 112.31 per dollar.

The Bank of Korea warned on growth. Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju Yeol said South Korean growth will probably fall below 3% in 2016, Bloomberg reports. Earlier this year, the central bank projected 3% growth and 1.4% inflation. Those numbers are likely to change when the bank releases its new economic outlook on April 19. As for the new BOK board members being “dovish,” Lee noted, “…members’ policy decisions change when economic situations change.” South Korea’s won strengthened by 1.1% to 1151.09 per dollar.

The Asian Development Bank sees slower growth for developing Asian nations. The ADB lowered its 2016 growth forecast for developing Asian nations as a result of the continued slowdown in China, and the weak recovery in major industrial economies. The bank now sees growth of 5.7% for this year, down from its previous forecast of 6%. “Despite these pressures, the region [Asia] will continue to contribute over 60% of total global growth,” said ADB’s chief economist,
Shang-Jin Wei, following the release of the report.

Foxconn is buying a big piece of Sharp. Foxconn is paying $3.5 billion for a 66% stake in struggling electronics maker Sharp. According to Reuters, there was a reported $4.4 billion agreement between the two sides back on February 25, but Foxconn decided it wasn’t ready to move forward at that time. “I am thrilled by the prospects for this strategic alliance and I look forward to working with everyone at Sharp,” Foxconn founder Terry Gou said in a statement.

Boeing announced job cuts. The planemaker announced it will eliminate 4,000 jobs in its commercial aeroplane division by the middle of 2016. The cuts will come through 1,600 voluntary layoffs and by leaving open positions unfilled, Reuters reports. Additionally, 550 jobs in a flight and lab testing division and about 570 jobs in its test and evaluation division will be eliminated as well. “While there is no employment reduction target, the more we can control costs as a whole the less impact there will be to employment,” spokesman Doug Alder said.

Stock markets around the world are mostly higher. China’s Shanghai Composite (+2.8%) led in Asia and France’s CAC (+2%) paces the advance in Europe. S&P 500 futures are higher by 12.75 points at 2060.25.

Earnings reports continue to trickle out. Carnival and Lululemon Athletica report ahead of the opening bell while Micron Technology releases its quarterly results after markets close.

US economic data is light. ADP Employment Change will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET and crude oil inventories will cross the wires at 10:30 a.m. ET. The US Treasury will auction $28 billion worth of 7-year notes. The 7-year yield is trading up 1 basis point at 1.60%.

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