10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Arlington CemeteryReuters/Carlos BarriaA member of the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) takes part in a ‘Flags-In’ ceremony, ahead of Memorial Day, at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

Here is what you need to know.

The Bank of Japan kept policy on hold.Haruhiko Kuroda’s central bank decided to take a wait and see approach after Wednesday’s GDP data handily outpaced expectations. Friday’s decision kept the BOJ’s asset purchase program at 80 trillion yen ($US662 billion) with the bank noting the economy has “continued to recover moderately.” Japan’s yen is up 0.1% at 120.91 per dollar.

Greece says a deal is near, but Germany disagrees. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras believes a debt deal is near following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Riga, Latvia. Unfortunately, Merkel disagrees. Merkel suggested “intensive work” still needs to be done, and that “there is still a lot to do.” Greece’s 2-year yield is higher by 47 basis points at 23.36%.

Mario Draghi wants reform in Europe. The European Central Bank head said he wants Europe to unleash “
an untapped potential for substantially higher output, employment and welfare.” Business Insider’s Mike Bird reports Draghi used the word ‘reform’ 85 times in Friday’s speech, noting he’s not happy with the current pace of the region’s economic rebound. Unfortunately for him, he has no control over the decisions of each individual government. The euro is stronger by 0.7% at 1.1186.

German business confidence slipped. Germany’s Ifo Business Climate survey eased to 108.5 in May from 108.6 in April, showing a slight downtick in expectations for the future. However, businesses felt better about their current situation as that reading improved to 114.3 from 114.0. Germany’s 10-year yield is down 4 basis points at 0.60%.

Reynolds is likely to receive antitrust approval for its takeover of Lorillard. The tobacco giant is likely to receive antitrust approval next week for its $US25 billion takeover of rival Lorillard. Bloomberg says, “To ensure the industry remains competitive, the company has offered to sell its Blu e-cigarettes and menthol brands, including Kool, to Imperial Tobacco Group Plc. — conditions that are key to regulators approving the deal.” The deal is expected to turn a profit within the first year.

Hewlett-Packard revenue fell. The company announced adjusted earnings of $US0.87 per share, edging out the $US0.86 per share consensus. Revenue fell 7% to $US25.45 billion, missing the $US25.63 billion that was expected. HP provided an update on the split up of the company, saying long-time CFO Cathie Lesjak will be moving over to the PC/printer business.

Ross Stores posted a strong quarter. Discount retailer Ross Stores earned $US1.33 per share, beating Wall Street expectations by 5 cents. Revenue spiked 9.6% to $US2.94 billion, handily topping the $US2.89 billion analysts were anticipating. Comparable same store sales rose 5% from the prior year. CEO Barbara Rentler said, “Our results continue to benefit from value-focused customers responding favourably to our fresh and exciting assortments of name brand bargains.”

Aeropostale missed on the top and bottom lines. The teen retailer announced a loss of $US0.56 per share, which was a penny worse than Wall Street estimates. Revenue tumbled 19.5% versus last year to $US318.6 million, missing the $US324.28 million that was expected. “We worked our way through a number of issues, including a merchandise assortment that was not consistent with our future direction, unseasonably cool weather, and the West Coast port slowdown,” noted CEO Julian Geiger.

Stock markets around the world trade mixed. China’s Shanghai Composite (+2.3%) led Asian markets higher as trade raced to a 7-year high. In Europe, Germany’s DAX (-0.4%) lags. S&P futures are off 0.50 points at 2127.50.

US economic data is light. CPI is scheduled to cross the wires at 8:30 a.m. ET. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will be in Connecticut, speaking on the economy, at 1 p.m. ET. The US 10-year lower by 2 basis points at 2.17%.

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