Cyprus scraps proposed tax on small deposits. The crisis in Cyprus has again hit global markets - although not by as much as yesterday - ahead of a scheduled vote in the country's parliament at 6 pm local time (12 pm ET) about whether to approve a raid on bank deposits. The latest draft bill scraps the proposed levy on deposits of under €20,000 but doesn't make up for the "lost" revenue by increasing the tax on larger accounts.
Boeing wins massive Ryanair order for 175 737 jets. Boeing (BA) has obtained an order for 175 737-800 jets from Dublin-based Ryanair (RYAAY) in a deal worth $15.6B at list prices. The booking should make up for some of Boeing's hurt at losing out on a $24B order from Indonesia's Lion Air.
Top Stock News
ARM CEO Warren East to retire. ARM Holdings (ARMH) CEO Warren East will retire on July 1 after 12 years in the job and be replaced by company President Simon Seagars. Under East's leadership, ARM has become a dominating force in designing chips for mobile phones and tablets, with the company's annual revenues more than quadrupling to $913M and the number of chips being shipped jumping to 41B from 950M. ARM's shares were -2.3% premarket.
Electronic Arts CEO to step down. Electronic Arts' (EA) shares rose 2.5% in post-market trading following news that CEO John Riccitiello is leaving after he accepted the blame for the video-gaming company missing its internal targets. Chairman Lawrence Probst will run EA while it searches for Riccitiello's successor. The firm also warned it expects FQ4 results to be "at the low end of, or slightly below" prior guidance.
Boeing's technical workers OK new labor deal. Boeing's (BA) technical staff have overwhelmingly approved a new four-year labor agreement, thereby averting a possible strike at a critical time for the company as it works to solve the 787's battery problems. The authorization comes after the technical workers rejected the same offer last month while Boeing's engineers accepted their deal. The agreement will lower the firm's pension costs, as it eliminates pensions for new recruits.
Blackstone mulls bid for Dell. Blackstone (BX), which signed a non-disclosure agreement with Dell (DELL) earlier this month, is reportedly considering a bid for the tech company to rival the $24.4B Michael Dell-led buyout offer. Dell's shares were +1.9% premarket.
Top Economic & Other News
FOMC set to maintain aggressive easing. The FOMC is due to convene today for a two-day meeting, with the Fed expected to continue its aggressive QE. Policy makers will also update their economic forecasts, a skill at which they don't particularly excel. "These 19 economic policy makers can't forecast their way out of a paper bag," writes the WSJ's "Ahead of the Tape" column more bluntly. It's a bit worrisome, as the Fed has linked the end of QE to precise measures of unemployment and inflation.
Fannie working to repay large chunk of rescue. Fannie Mae (OTCQB:FNMA) is working on an accounting change that could allow it to repay up to $61.5B of the $88B that it owes to the Treasury. Under the change, Fannie would reclaim tax benefits that were written down after the government took it over in 2008. The return of billions of dollars to the Treasury "could have important repercussions for reform and other housing-finance discussions," says analyst Jim Vogel.
When Jacob met Xi. New U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has held talks with new Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in the men's first major international meeting since taking on their respective positions. Publicly, Xi said China and the U.S. will "unavoidably" continue to have differences; privately, the men spoke about the exchange rate, intellectual property, cybersecurity, Cyprus and North Korea. Lew is due to meet with new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang tomorrow.
1.7M homeowners escape negative equity in 2012. The number of mortgage borrowers in negative equity fell to 10.4M in Q4 from 10.6M, data from CoreLogic shows, with the improvement due to the recovery in the housing market. Overall, 1.7M properties climbed back into positive equity in 2012. The state with highest proportion of underwater households was Nevada with a rate of 52.4%.
Fears arise that farming is heading for a bust. Rising crop prices, particularly corn, have sent the cost of farmland soaring, with prices in Iowa, for example, doubling to an average of $8,296 an acre since 2009. The trend has prompted farmers to expand and has attracted investment companies, but with data about rural debt incomplete, economists fear that the boom will at some point turn into a bust, leaving a trail of bankruptcies and out-of-pocket creditors.
India lowers interest rates. As expected, the Reserve Bank of India has cut its benchmark interest rate to 7.5% from 7.75%, the second reduction this year, as it looks to boost faltering economic growth. The move came despite consumer inflation of 10.9%. "Even as the policy stance emphasizes addressing the growth risks, the headroom for further monetary easing remains quite limited," the RBI said.
BOJ governor clears his desk. Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa is leaving his post today after five years, during which time he has been credited with protecting the country's banking system from a series of shocks, including the collapse of Lehman, the eurozone debt crisis, and the earthquake and tsunami two years ago. However, Shirakawa failed to lift Japan out of its chronic deflation - a task that Haruhiko Kuroda will take on from tomorrow.
In Asia, Japan +2% to 12468. Hong Kong -0.2% to 22042. China +0.8% to 2257. India -1.5% to 19008.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.4%. Paris -0.8%. Frankfurt -0.5%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude +0.1% to $93.81. Gold -0.2% to $1602.50.
Today's economic calendar:
FOMC meeting begins
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:30 Housing Starts
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
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