10 Things You Need To Know This Morning

Jennifer Lopez Cameron Diaz Oscars Academy Awards

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Image

Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Markets traded mostly lower overnight in Asia, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng off 0.9 per cent. European markets sold off too, with the Italian FTSE MIB, German DAX, and French CAC all falling more than 1 per cent. U.S. stock markets opened moderately lower.
  • Leaders representing the Group of 20 countries were unable to make substantial progress on international aid for Europe during a meeting this weekend. Although members who met say they moved talks forward, reports out of the Wall Street Journal put a finalised agreement months away, likely during a vote at a June summit. Click here for the eurozone crisis for dummies >
  • Home prices in the United Kingdom fell 1.4 per cent year-on-year in February, remaining at the same level as in January. However the number of buyers surged 18 per cent as U.K. citizens took advantage of an expiring tax cut.
  • HSBC reported an annual net profit of $16.8 billion for 2011, led by returns in its commercial bank. Europe’s largest bank said its investment banking unit remained weak. HSBC forecast strong growth in emerging markets and Asia, but noted that costs in some territories were starting to increase at a faster clip than before.
  • In a letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett announced that Berkshire Hathaway has lined up a successor to lead the company when he departs. Although he did not name the individual, he said the board of directors was enthusiastic about the candidate and already had a “great deal of exposure” to them. Hormones, Mistakes and Moynihan: Here Are The Highlights From Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter.
  • Beleaguered Japanese giant Olympus Corp. nominated its next president before a coming shareholder meeting in April. Hiroyuki Sasa, head of the company’s medical equipment marketing business, will have to win investor support — and Olympus’ decision to keep leadership within the company could make that difficult. Here’s why this Olympus fraud is bigger and more shocking than you realise.
  • U.S. economic announcements begin at 10:00 a.m. with pending home sales. Economists polled by Bloomberg forecast January pending sales will increase 1.0 per cent, reversing December’s 3.5 per cent decline. Follow the release live on Money Game.
  • Economic reports continue at 10:30 a.m., with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reporting manufacturing activity for the 11th federal district, which includes Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern New Mexico. Expectations are for the index to perk up slightly to 15.5, from 15.1. A reading above zero indicates expansion.
  • The BP-Deepwater Horizon civil trial was delayed for a week, giving the company additional time to continue settlement talks with plaintiffs. The first phase of the trial will determine the company’s role, responsibility, and culpability in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Here’s the expected time line of the BP trial and what it may cost the company.
  • Earnings season begins to taper off, with less than 10 per cent of the S&P 500 reporting this week. However, today Priceline and Lowe’s announce quarterly results. Earnings increased 23.8 per cent at Lowe’s to $0.26 per share, topping estimates for $0.23. Priceline.com is expected to announce earnings per share of $5.05. Read more about the already disappointing earnings season that has nonetheless sent stocks higher >

Bonus: Jennifer Lopez revealed too much skin when presenting the Oscar for Best Costume Design and Makeup with Cameron Diaz.

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