Here is what you need to know.
Brent crude oil hit $50. For the first time in seven months, Brent crude oil crossed the $50 per barrel level. Thursday’s 0.8% gain comes after Wednesday’s Energy Industry Association inventory data showed inventories fell 4.226 million barrels, which was a bigger drop than the 2.5 million barrel draw that analysts were expecting. Brent is now trading at $50.14 per barrel, and its best level since November. Also notable, West Texas Intermediate crude oil is up 0.6% at $49.87 per barrel.
Japan’s prime minister is warning of another ‘Lehman-scale crisis.’ Speaking at the G7, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared the current situation to the global financial crisis of 2008/2009. Reuters reports, Abe noted the 55% drop in commodities prices since 2014, and said that fiscal spending is necessary to combat a global slowdown. The summit is set to conclude on Friday.
St. Louis Fed President Bullard says inflation could be on the rise. “In short, labour markets are relatively tight,” Bullard said while speaking in Singapore. “This may put upward pressure on inflation going forward.” According to Reuters, Bullard noted market expectations remain misaligned with the Fed’s projections.
China is being hit with massive tariffs on steel. The US Commerce Department says it will impose tariffs of up to 450% on Chinese steel in an effort to prevent a glut of steel from entering the market. According to Reuters, the announcement comes as China is accused of “dumping steel at prices far below production costs to avoid cutting excess capacity in the sector.” The EU is also said to be considering tariffs of its own.
UK GDP was inline. The Office for National Statistics said first quarter Second Estimate GDP rose 0.4%, unchanged from the initial look. While the reading was in-line with economists estimates, it marked a slowdown from the 0.6% growth witnessed in the fourth quarter. The British pound is little changed near 1.4705.
Hewlett-Packard reported mixed results. The hardware company announced earnings of $0.41 per share, topping the $0.38 that Wall Street was anticipating. Revenue slid 10.7% to $11.59 billion, which was shy of the $11.71 billion that analysts were hoping for. The decline in revenue came amid tepid demand for HP’s personal computers and printers.
Wells Fargo was fined over mortgage servicing. The bank was fined $70 million for miscalculating escrow between March 2013 and October 2014 that sometimes led to “unsafe or unsound bank practices,” Reuters reports. Regulators had imposed consent orders on Wells back in 2011, and amended them as recently as June 2015. The bank has now complied with those orders, and restrictions have been lifted, Reuters says.
Stock markets are higher pretty much everywhere. Germany’s DAX (+0.5%) leads in Europe after Australia’s ASX (+0.3%) paced the gains in Asia. S&P 500 futures are up 2.50 points at 2089.75.
Earnings reporting remains light. Abercrombie & Fitch, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Sears Holdings are among the names releasing their quarterly results ahead of the opening bell. Deckers Outdoor and GameStop will report after markets close.
US economic data picks up. Initial and continuing claims and durable orders will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Then, at 10 a.m. ET, pending home sales will cross the wires. Data concludes for the day at 10:30 a.m. ET when natural gas inventories are announced. The US 10-year yield is unchanged at 1.87%.
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