REUTERS/ Regis DuvignauA polar bear swims underwater at the family-owned Palmyre Zoo in the Charente Maritime region of western France.
Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets fell in overnight trading. Japan’s Nikkei was down 1.50%, Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.10%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.07%. European markets were mixed, as were U.S. futures.
- Bitcoin — the digital currency very much in vogue right now — crashed 30% this morning after China instructed its banks not to handle it. The cryptocurrency has been on an absolute hot streak lately, but today plunged from a high of $US1,240 to a low of $US870. And Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan raised eyebrows yesterday when he identified Bitcoin as a bubble. People snarked at the comment, seeing as Greenspan kind of “missed” the whole housing and dot-com bubble thing when he was in charge.
- U.S. GDP growth was 3.6% an an annualized rate, besting both the BEA’s and Wall Street’s expectations. Personal consumption growth was at 1.4%, below the estimate of 1.5%. Though, inventories increased $US116.5 billion, which contributed to 1.7% to the headline number (up from the initial $US86 billion estimate, which would account for 0.8% of the initial 2.8% growth estimate)
- Initial jobless claims fell to 298,000, down from last week’s 321,000 (which was revised up to 316,000).
- The Bank of England and European Central Bank both announced this morning whether they are increasing, decreasing, or maintaining interest rates. The BOE held the key overnight borrowing interest rate at 0.50%, and the ECB is maintained its rate of 0.25% (last month, the ECB surprised pretty much everybody by cutting the rate). ECB President Mario Draghi will hold a press conference after the announcement.
- The BOE decision comes right after UK chancellor George Osborne announced revised growth figures for the British economy. The Office for Budget Responsibility expects 2013 growth to come in at 1.4% (up from March’s 0.6% call) and 2014 growth to be 2.4% (up from 1.8%). Osborne also said the UK will plan on running a budget surplus come 2018.
- At 10:00 a.m, new data on factory orders will be released. Economists are looking for a 1.0% drop. “October factory orders likely fell, pulled down primarily by the already reported drop in durable goods,” wrote Citi’s Peter D’Antonio. “Falling oil prices probably contributed to lower nondurable goods orders and shipments.”
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government approved a $US182 billion economic aid package meant to yank the country out of deflation, Reuters’ Stanley White reports. The bulk of the package, including a jolt of stimulus dollars to combat the planned national sales-tax hike in April, had already been scheduled. The Japanese Cabinet Office said the aid package will add 1% to GDP and create 250,000 jobs, Reuters reported.
- Perhaps this bodes well for holiday shopping figures — Christmas tree sales are already through the roof this season. “It appears that while housing is still weakening consumer spending is strengthening on many fronts, from furniture sales to Christmas tree sales,” ISI chairman Ed Hyman wrote in a note to clients. In a survey of regional tree farmers and retailers, week 1 sales were at 16%, compared with the week 1 average of 7% from 2010-2012. “Judging by this, you’d better get your tree early,” Hyman wrote.
- Apple and China Mobile have signed a deal to offer iPhones on its massive network, the Wall Street Journal’s Lorraine Luk and Daisuke Wakabayashi report. With over 700 million subscribers, China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier. The Journal reports that the iPhone rollout is due to take place later this month.
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