REUTERS/Edgard GarridoAn activist dressed in costume waves in front of riot police officers after a political meeting organised by Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) to present a proposal to the energy reform bill outside the Senate of the Republic building in Mexico City, August 19, 2013.
Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Markets in Asia were lower in overnight trading. The Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 2.6%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng lost 2.2%, and the Shanghai Composite was down 0.6%. European markets are selling off across the board, with Spain currently down 2.3%. In the United States, futures point to a negative open.
- Indonesia’s stock market fell 3.2% today after retreating more than 5% yesterday. The country is the latest to bear the brunt of the sell-off that has roiled emerging markets this year. Morgan Stanley analysts point to a plunging currency, investor outflows from stock and bond markets, and a quickly-increasing current account deficit as reasons for the weakness.
- The Aussie dollar is down 0.5% against the U.S. dollar following the release of the minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s August meeting, in which the central bank said that the course of the exchange rate would be important for setting policy, and that “members agreed that the bank should neither close off the possibility of reducing rates further, nor signal an imminent intention to reduce rates further.”
- TEPCO is dealing with another leak of contaminated water at its Fukushima power plant. The leak is said to contain dangerously high levels of radiation, and the episode marks the latest in a string of incidents at the plant since the earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011. “That is a huge amount of radiation. The situation is getting worse,” nuclear chemist Michiaki Furukawa told Reuters.
- Home Depot reported second quarter earnings of $US1.24 per share on revenues of $US22.5 billion, topping analysts’ estimates for $US1.20 and $US21.7 billion, respectively. The home-improvement retailer also boosted guidance. “The second quarter results exceeded our expectations as our business benefited from a rebound in our seasonal categories, continued strength in the core of the store and the recovering housing market in the U.S.,” said Home Depot chairman and CEO Frank Blake in the release.
- J.C. Penney reported a second quarter loss of $US2.06 per share on revenues of $US2.66 billion. Analysts were looking for a loss of $US1.06 per share on revenues of $US2.76 billion, so both figures came in well below expectations. “Comparable store sales declined 11.9% in the quarter, and were negatively impacted by the Company’s failed prior merchandising and promotional strategies, which resulted in unusually high markdowns and clearance levels in the second quarter,” said management in a press release.
- Best Buy reported second quarter earnings of $US0.32 per share on revenues of $US9.3 billion. Analysts expected the electronics retailer to report earnings of $US0.12 per share and revenues of $US9.13 billion. The company reported robust same-store sales growth and progress on cost cuts that boosted the bottom line. Shares are surging in pre-market trading.
- Barnes & Noble reported a second quarter loss of $US1.56 per share on revenues of $US1.33 billion. Analysts expected the bookstore to report a loss of $US0.89 per share and revenues of $US1.32 billion. “First quarter comparable bookstore sales decreased, reflecting lower NOOK device unit volume and a title lineup last year that included unusually strong sales from The Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey trilogies,” said the company in a release. “‘Core’ comparable bookstore sales, which exclude sales of NOOK products, decreased 7.2% for the quarter. Excluding the impact of the two mentioned trilogies, Core comparable bookstore sales decreased 2.9%.”
- German producer prices unexpectedly fell 0.1% in July after remaining unchanged in June. Economists were predicting a price rise of 0.2%. The figures caused the annual rate of producer price inflation to slow to 0.5% in July from 0.6% the month before.
- There are no notable economic data releases in the U.S. today, but two key releases later in the week will take center stage. The first is the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July FOMC meeting on Wednesday afternoon, and the second is the release of weekly jobless claims figures on Thursday morning. Both will likely give markets a sense of how likely the Fed is to begin reducing the pace of its bond buying program at the September FOMC meeting.