Here is what you need to know.
The UK slipped into deflation for the first time in at least 55 years. Consumer prices slipped 0.1% year-over-year in the UK, marking an unexpected return to deflation. The UK has not experienced falling prices since the 1950s and 1960s, but its last extended bout with deflation was in the 1930s, following the Great Depression. The British pound is lower by 0.9% at 1.5520.
The ECB will “front load” QE. European Central Bank Executive Board member Beniot Coeure said the central bank will “front load” its quantitative easing (QE) program in May and June due to low liquidity in July and August. He also suggested the recent selloff in government bonds was normal, but he worried of “extreme volatility.” The euro is down 1.0% at 1.1208.
Greece is closing in on a deal with its creditors. Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told business leaders that a deal with creditors will come “very soon.” However, that has not stopped citizens from pulling money out of banks as they fear capital controls similar to those implemented in Cyprus. “People are taking more or less everything they have got out of their accounts for fear that the government will be dipping into them next. Many see it as the logical next step and after today’s statement we expect the outflows to increase,” a Greek bank official speaking on the condition of anonymity told Reuters. Greece’s 2-year yield is off 67 basis points at 22.82%.
China is making it a priority to open up capital markets in 2015. China’s State Council called 2015 a “crucial year for deepening reform.” According to Reuters, Beijing looks to target, “state enterprises, taxation, the ShenzhenHong Kong stock connect, deposit rates, the initial public offering system, and boosting the global status of the yuan among others.” China’s yuan finished little changed at 6.2069 per dollar.
Bank Indonesia kept policy on hold. Indonesia’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 7.50%, as expected. Governor Agus Martowardojo announced the central bank would ease some lending restrictions, but did not give any details. Bank Indonesia has been under political pressure to cut interest rates to boost the economy, but fears a return of inflation. Indonesia’s rupiah gained 0.3% to 13,098 per dollar.
Walmart earnings and revenue missed. The world’s largest retailer announced earnings of $US1.03 per share, missing the Wall Street estimate of $US1.05. Revenue came in at $US114 billion, but was shy of the $US116.2 billion that was anticipated. The closely followed comparable store sales metric was up 1.1%, coming in at the lower end of the 1-2% guidance.
Home Depot earnings topped estimates. The world’s largest home improvement chain earned $US1.16 per share, adjusted for non-recurring items, slightly outpacing the $US1.15 that was anticipated. Revenue matched the Wall Street estimate, rising 6.1% YoY to $US20.89 billion. Home Depot upped its full year 2016 EPS guidance to $US5.24-5.27 from $US5.11-5.17 and its full year 2016 revenue guidance to $US86.67-87.1 billion vs. $US86.8 billion. Both were better than expected.
Urban Outfitters missed on the top and bottom lines. The retailer announced earnings of $US0.25 per share, missing the $US0.30 that was expected. Revenue climbed 7.7% to $US739 million, which was short of the $US757.58 million Wall Street was anticipating. Same-store sales also disappointed, up 4% versus the up 5.1% estimate.
Stocks are higher around the world. China’s Shanghai Composite (+3.0%) led the overnight advance in Asia. Germany’s DAX (+1.8%) paces the gains in Europe. S&P 500 futures are up 5.50 points at 2131.50.
US economic data flows. Housing starts and building permits are due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 4 basis points at 2.20%.