Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
Coal Mine Disaster In Turkey. At least 205 miners were killed after a transformer exploded and ignited a fire in a coal mine in western Turkey, reported the AP’s Desmond Butler and Suzan Fraser. At least 200 more workers are reportedly trapped. “Regarding the rescue operation, I can say that our hopes are diminishing,” said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. From AP: “In Istanbul, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the company which owns the mine, Soma Holding… The country’s main opposition party said that Erdogan’s ruling party had recently voted down a proposal for the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into a series of small scale accidents at mines around Soma.”
British Recovery. The U.K. unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 6.8% in March. This was down from 6.9% in February. This is just the latest in a series of reports confirming improving economic activity in the region.
BoE’s Carney Chimes In. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney discussed the prospect of tighter monetary policy when he released the bank’s May Inflation Report. “The exact timing will inevitably be the subject of considerable speculation and interest,” he said. “The ultimate answer will depend on the evolution of the economy, particularly the degree of slack, the prospects for its absorption, and the broader inflation outlook.” In its report, the BoE forecasted that inflation would be 1.8% in 2014 and 2015, and 1.9% in 2016. It also forecasted that GDP would grow 3.4% in 2014 and 2.9% in 2015.
More On The British Boom. All of the data puts increasing amounts of pressure on the Bank of England to begin reigning in easy monetary policy. From SocGen’s Kit Juckes. “The UK interest rate market now considers a 2014 rate hike a distinct possibility – 15bp of hikes are priced in by December. That is twice the tightening that is priced into the US futures market. 3-month futures contracts meanwhile, now price the UK/US rate spread widening from 30bp now to 80bp by the middle of next year. That looks excessive. But, and here it really is time for a ‘Mea Culpa’, UK economic data have been and continue to be strong enough for these trends to go further. Sterling is powered by the way strong data impact rate expectations…”
Euro Zone Industrial Production Whiffs. Industrial production in the euro zone unexpectedly fell by 0.1% in March. This was much worse than the 0.9% increase expected by economists. “The timing of Easter could be playing a role, but the series is working day adjusted so most of this bias should be neutralized,” noted Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson. “[T]oday’s poor number has not made a lethal mark on the uptrend in industrial production growth, but a similar figure next month would, and these data need to be watched.”
Markets Aren’t Doing Much. Asian markets closed mixed overnight, with Japan’s Nikkei down 0.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 1.0%. European markets are trading modestly lower with Britain’s FTSE, France’s CAC, and Germany’s DAX each down by around 0.1%. US futures are down a hair with Dow futures down 7 points.
Inflation. At 8:30 a.m. ET, we’ll get the latest producer price index report. Economists estimate PPI climbed 0.2% month-over-month in April and 1.7% year-over-year. Excluding food and energy, core PPI is estimated to have increased by 0.2% and 1.4% respectively. “Another sizable increase in prices received by farmers (most likely due to drought conditions in some regions) should put upward pressure on producer prices in April,” said Nomura economists who forecast a 0.5% jump in PPI.
Retail Pulse Check. America’s retailers will be announcing their latest quarterly earnings over the next few days and weeks. This comes after yesterday’s disappointing retail sales report that showed sales excluding autos and gas unexpectedly fell by 0.1%; economists were looking for a 0.5% gain.
PIMCO’s Parent Takes A Hit. The widely publicized investment outflows at bond fund giant PIMCO are having a material impact on the earnings of parent company Allianz. “Operating profit in asset management fell to 646 million euros from 900 million in a strong year-earlier quarter, with performance fees at Pimco falling by 96 per cent,” reported Reuters’ Jonathan Gould.
Sears Considering Options For Canada. Beleaguered department store chain Sears Holdings is considering its options regarding its Canadian business. In a press release, management “announced today that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its 51% interest in Sears Canada, including a potential sale of Sears Holdings’ interest or Sears Canada as a whole. In connection with those efforts, Sears Holdings intends to engage an investment banking firm.”
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