10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell

Scotland flag saltire independenceREUTERS/Dylan MartinezScottish voters are already at the polls

Morning! Here are the big news stories that will set today’s agenda.

Scotland is voting in its independence referendum. The polls are already open, and close at 5 pm New York time. Results will trickle in throughout the evening, and there should be a declaration in the early hours of the morning.

The European Central Bank’s latest policy is a big disappointment. The targeted long-term refinancing operations garnered a lot less interest than analysts had hoped, and most think an €82.6 billion takeup won’t be enough.

Yellen’s dovish tones drove the dollar to a six-year high. The greenback hit its highest level since September 2008 against the yen last night, following Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s repeated assurances of easy policy from the Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, markets are in the green. Japan’s Nikkei closed up 1.1%, European stocks are up with the EURO STOXX 50 up 0.8%, and US futures are higher with Dow futures up 60 points.

The Alibaba float pricing is coming up today. The massive Chinese e-commerce firm is selling more than $US20 billion in shares in New York, and Alibaba stocks will be available for retail investors Friday.

Apple’s iPhone 6 has now got regulatory approval to be used on Chinese frequencies. It’s a key aspect of accessing the country’s rapidly growing market. But the firm still has more hurdles to jump through before it’s allowed to sell the phone there.

Japan’s brief export boost looks like it’s already slowing down. The country saw a rise in outward trade immediately after a recent sales tax hike, but figures out overnight showed exports down 1.3% in the year to August. And two major Japanese firms had negative announcements overnight. Suzuki will recall 453,000 vehicles because of a defective fan in the air conditioning unit. Toshiba also announced that they would be laying off 900 staff in a restructuring which will see them retreat from some markets.

Chinese home prices are still falling. House prices fell for the fourth straight month, adding to concerns about the strength of the massive developing economy. Earlier this week, the People’s Bank of China organised an unannounced stimulus for the country’s banking sector, in an attempt to offset the slowdown.

The IMF and World Bank are stepping into the fight against Ebola. The two institutions pledged $US300m to the worst-hit countries in west Africa. Some of the nations are struggling to finance the expensive quarantine and medical programmes needed to fight the disease.

Get ready for a lot of US economic data. Later today, we’ll get US weekly initial jobless claims (305,000 estimated), August housing starts (1.037 million estimated), and the Philly Fed Business Outlook Index (23.0 estimated.).

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