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Global equities were lower at the time of writing following surprisingly hawkish comments from Janet Yellen, who yesterday indicated that the Fed could raise interest rates "around six months" after it fully winds down QE. With the bond-buying set to end in the autumn, a rate hike could come in April next year, much earlier than expectations for late 2015.
Ukraine plans to pull its troops out of Crimea in what is effectively a de facto acceptance of Russia's annexation of the province. Ukraine will now fortify its eastern border with Russia, which has apparently been massing forces nearby. Meanwhile, EU leaders will look to agree on further sanctions against Russia at a summit that starts today. Vladimir Putin must be quaking.
China's government just can't help itself. The State Council intends to accelerate construction projects and enact other measures to expand domestic demand and stabilize growth. The plan comes amid data which suggests that the economy is softening. However, it also contrasts with noises from China's leadership that it's prepared to tolerate slower growth in order to enact reform that would reduce the economy's reliance on heavy industry.
Transcripts from chatroom conversations between forex dealers reportedly indicate that officials at the Bank of England agreed that there were benefits to traders sharing information about client orders as a way of limiting market volatility. If accurate, the conversations could undermine BOE assertions that it hadn't condoned the sharing of client orders. The practice has become the center of an investigation into the manipulation of the $5.3T-a-day forex market.
GlaxoSmithKline's MAGE-A3 lung-cancer immunotherapeutic missed two out of three main goals in a Phase III trial, failing to significantly boost disease-free survival in non-small cell lung cancer patients vs a placebo. GSK (NYSE:GSK) will continue the trial to assess the third primary endpoint, which is designed to test the effectiveness of the drug in a certain group of patients. Shares were -1.7% premarket.
The Fed is due to release the results of its annual stress test on 30 banks today, with most expected to pass. If the banks, which include JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), are found wanting, they will have a few days to alter any plans to return money to shareholders - the Fed is due to say next week whether it will approve firms' dividend and/or stock-buyback programs.
ING Groep has raised $1.18B by selling 33.76M shares in its ING U.S. (NYSE:VOYA) insurance unit. The Dutch bank sold 26.5M shares in a public offering at ING U.S.'s closing price yesterday of $35.23 each, while the subsidiary bought 7.26M shares at $34.45 a piece. With the sale, ING Groep's (NYSE:ING) stake in the unit fell to 45% from 57%. The bank plans to use the proceeds to repay debt.
China Mobile's net profit fell for the first time in 14 years in 2013, dropping 5.9% to 121.7B yuan ($19.6B) as the company increased infrastructure spending and handset subsidies. Free mobile-messaging services also hurt income. Revenue climbed 8.3% to 630.18B yuan. China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) intends to increase capital expenditure 22% to 225.2B yuan ($36.34B) in 2014, which should please the telecom-equipment companies.
eMarketer forecasts that global mobile-ad sales will jump 75% in 2014 to $31.45B after growing 105% last year. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is expected to account for 46.8% of the total, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) 21.7% and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) 2.6%. Still, Google's ongoing challenge is that Web browsing accounts for only around 20% of smartphone usage, making its search ad hegemony less valuable on mobile than on PCs.
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In Asia, Japan -1.6% to 14224. Hong Kong -1.8% to 21182. China -1.4% to 1993. India -0.4% to 21740.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.9%. Paris -0.8%. Frankfurt -0.8%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude -0.2% to $100.15. Gold -1% to $1327.90.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.78%.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:00 Philly Fed Business Outlook
10:00 Leading Indicators
10:00 Existing Home Sales
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet