Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
Chinese Exports Surge. China’s exports climbed by 0.9%, beating expectations for a 3.0% decline. The growth rate, however, is most likely much high as experts agree that last year’s stats were artificially boosted by false trades largely to Hong Kong. “Export growth data was inflated by around 10pp in April last year based on our estimations,” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Ting Lu. “So actual export growth could be around 10% in April if we adjust for this distortion, compared to 4-5% of adjusted exported growth in March.” Meanwhile, imports increased by 0.8%, which was much stronger than the 2.1% drop expected. China’s trade surplus increased to $US18.5 billion.
Big Bank Woes. Five years after the global financial crisis, we continue to hear about banks scrambling to restructure and reinvigorate their operations. Earlier today, Barclays confirmed speculation that the it would be cutting its headcount. Management expect to let go of 19,000 employees over the next three years in its plan to boost long-term profitability.
Tesla Tumbles. Tesla shares are down by around 5% in premarket trading. The electric car maker announced Q1 adjusted earnings per share of $US0.12, which was better than the $US0.07 expected by analysts. The company delivered 6,457 models S during the period, which was also better than most analysts’ forecasts. “We still plan to invest $US650-850 million for the year in capital expenditures for increased production capacity, growth in our store, service center and Supercharger footprints, Model X and S development and start of Gigafactory construction,” said Musk. “With all these initiatives, we expect to be slightly free cash flow negative in 2014, before considering the equity required for leasing.”
Greece’s Labour Market Nightmare. Greece’s unemployment rate fell to 26.7% in February. Unfortunately, we can only say “fell” because January’s unemployment rate was revised up to 27.2% from an earlier estimate of 26.7%. The unemployment rate for those 15 to 24 years old is at a horrific 56.8%.
Market Update. Markets around the world are in the green. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.9% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.4%. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE, France’s CAC 40, and Germany’s DAX are all up by around 0.5%. U.S. stock market futures are modestly in the green.
Bank Of England Does Nothing. As expected, the BoE kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.5% and its asset purchase plan unchanged £375 billion.
European Central Bank May Tweak Its Policy. At 7:45 a.m. ET, the ECB announces its monetary policy decision. Economists expect the bank to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.25%. “At today’s meeting, we expect the ECB to end SMP sterilisation, but do not look for action on rates or asset purchases,” said Societe Generale economists. SMP sterilisation means that the ECB is offsetting its stimulative asset purchases with sales elsewhere. “In light of the data published since the last ECB meeting (robust business confidence, inflation figures close to expectations, and slightly better news from the ECB bank lending survey), the chances of ECB action on rates or asset purchases have fallen.”
Jobless Claims. At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Department of Labour will publish its latest tally of weekly initial unemployment insurance claims. Economists estimate claims fell to 325,000 from 344,000 a week ago. “Initial jobless claims have trended higher in the past couple weeks,” noted Nomura economists. “We need to observe claims in coming weeks to determine if this trend continues and if there has been any deterioration in labour market performance.”
FedEx’s New Price Plan. The WSJ’s Laura Stevens reports that FedEx will charge its ground packages by size and dimensions instead of weight.
The Rise Of Alibaba’s Jack Ma. The NYTimes’ Neil Gough and Alexandra Stevenson have an interesting profile of Jack Ma, the found of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba. “The first time Jack Ma used the Internet, in 1995, he searched for “beer” and “China” but found no results,” they report. “Intrigued, he created a basic web page for a Chinese translation service with a friend. Within hours, he received a handful of emails from around the world requesting information.”
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