10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Spain bicycle bikerREUTERS/Jon NazcaSpanish mountain biker Alejandro Ortega takes a deep breath as he makes his way to the finish line, in front of ‘Puente Nuevo’ (New Bridge), as he participates in the XVIII 101km international competition in Ronda, southern Spain, May 9, 2015.

Here is what you need to know.

The People’s Bank of China cut rates. China’s central bank lowered its 1-year lending rate 25 basis points to 5.10%. The rate cut marked the third such move on interest rates in the last six months as Beijing looks to cushion the slowing Chinese economy. Beijing also announced a 25 basis cut of its 1-year deposit rate to 2.25% while raising the maximum ceiling on benchmark deposit rates from 130% to 150%. China’s yuan finished unchanged at 6.2095 per dollar.

Greece’s next debt payment is due Tuesday. The Greek government must make a $US856.6 million debt payment to the International Monetary Fund, its largest since the Syriza government took control of parliament. The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports one minister told him, “we have enough money to pay the IMF this week but not enough to get through to the end of the month. We all know that.” Greece’s 2-year yield is up 14 basis points at 20.51%.

The Bank of England kept policy on hold. The central bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.50%, and its asset purchase program at 375 billion pounds. Both were expected. The British pound is stronger by 0.2% at 1.5488.

S&P 500 earnings growth turns positive for the first time since January. FactSet says S&P 500 earnings are on track to grow 0.1%. “The aggregate amount by which companies are reporting earnings above estimates for Q1 (6.4%) is well above the 5-year average (5.4%). In fact, if 6.4% is the final surprise percentage for the quarter, it will mark the highest surprise percentage for a quarter since Q1 2011 (7.0%). Thus, the above average surprise percentage for Q1 is the main driver of the above average increase in the Q1 earnings growth rate since March 31,” according to FactSet’s Jonathan Butters.

China has become the largest buyer of almost every commodity. In April, the world’s second largest economy passed the United States as the top importer of crude oil, buying 7.4 million barrels a day. This compares to the 7.2 million barrels bought by the United States. Reuters reports, “Overtaking the United States means China is the top user of almost all commodities, including coal, iron ore and most metals, with far-reaching implications for markets which continue to shift from West to East.”

Alibaba bought a more than 9% stake in Zulily. A SEC filing released late-Friday showed Alibaba paid approximately $US56 million for about 4.8 million Zulily Class A shares, representing a 9.3% stake in the company. Zulily’s primary business is selling clothing, toys, and other items for kids.

Actavis beat on the top and bottom lines. The Pharma giant earned $US4.30 per share, adjusted for non-recurring items, handily topping the $US3.94 that was anticipated. Revenues surged 59.5% year-over-year to $US4.23 billion, beating the $US4.04 billion that analysts were looking for. The company issued Co issues guidance for full year 2015 earnings per share guidance of $US17.00-18.50, excluding non-recurring items.

Sharp shares crashed. Shares of the electronics maker tumbled more than 20% after the company announced its was considering a preferred share offering as part of its restructuring plan. Details of the plan and the $US1.7 billion bailout from its creditors are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Stocks were stronger in Asia and are weaker in Europe. Overnight, China’s Shanghai Composite (+3.0%) led Asian markets higher following the People’s Bank of China rate cut. In Europe, France’s CAC (-1.5%) paces the decline. S&P 500 futures are down 1.00 points at 2107.50.

US economic data is absent. Data for the week begins Tuesday with the release of JOLTs Job Openings and the Treasury Budget. The US 10-year yield is higher by 3 basis points at 2.17%.

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