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Economy
Germany's economy appears to have enjoyed a "very strong" Q1, the Finance Ministry says, citing recent data, with an unusually mild winter helping to drive industrial expansion and construction activity. As a result, the economy is likely to moderate in Q2, the ministry says, although it describes the trend as just a "technical effect."

Japan has overhauled the investment committee of its $1.26T Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world's largest pension fund. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants the GPIF to improve returns by making higher-risk investments and reducing its reliance on low-yielding government bonds. The revamp is part of Abe's "third arrow" of his strategy to reform the economy and lift Japan out of deflation.

Stocks
Valeant and Bill Ackman's Pershing Square are teaming up to make a bid for Botox maker Allergan (NYSE:AGN) that could be worth over $45B. Pershing Square has a 9.7% stake in Allergan while Valeant (NYSE:VRX) expects to propose a merger with a cash component of around $15B. Allergan said it has had no discussions with Valeant or Pershing, nor has it received an offer. However, it would evaluate any proposal that was made.

Novartis has agreed to acquire GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE:GSK) oncology products for an initial $14.5B and up to $1.5B in development milestones. In return, GSK will buy the Swiss company's vaccines business for $5.25B upfront and as much as $1.8B in milestones, as well as royalties. The latter deal doesn't include Novartis' flu business. Novartis (NYSE:NVS) will also combine its over-the-counter operations with GSK Consumer Healthcare in a joint venture. GSK's shares were +5% premarket, while those of Novartis were +1.1%.

Novartis has also agreed to sell its animal-health division to Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) for around $5.4B. The latter will fold the Novartis (NVS) unit into its Elanco business to create the second-largest company in the sector in terms of global revenue.

Netflix's Q1 profit jumped to $53M from $3M a year earlier as EPS of $0.86 met analyst forecasts and revenue climbed 24.5% to $1.27B. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) added 2.25M U.S. streaming subs, in-line with guidance, and now has 35.67M. The company also has 12.68M international members after signing up 1.75M. Netflix plans to raise prices by $1-2 a month for new customers but will maintain current prices for existing subs "for a generous time period." Shares jumped 7.9% premarket.

Ford will reportedly appoint COO Mark Fields to be its next CEO to replace Alan Mulally, who is expected to leave the automaker by the year-end. Fields has been the odds-on favorite to take over from Mulally. Ford (NYSE:F) could make an announcement by May 1.

Philips' Q1 net profit fell to €137M ($189M) from €162M a year earlier as revenues dropped 5% to €5.02B, hurt by currency losses, a decline in sales at the company's healthcare business, and headwinds in China and Russia. Philips (NYSE:PHG) CEO Frans Van Houten said 2014 "will be a challenging year," but the company remains "very confident" of achieving its 2016 targets. Van Houten believes that Europe has "fully bottomed out" and is starting to pick up. Shares dropped 7.2% premarket.

Manchester United have sacked manager David Moyes just 10 months after he was appointed to replace the legendary Alex Ferguson. Moyes' departure comes towards the end of a hugely disappointing season in which the club has failed miserably to defend the English Premier League title it won last year. United (NYSE:MANU) are in seventh place and will miss out on the highly lucrative Champions League next season.


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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.8% to 14389. Hong Kong -0.1% to 22731. China +0.3% to 2073. India flat at 22758.
In Europe, at midday, London +1%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +1.2%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude -0.3% to $104.03. Gold -0.2% to $1290.90.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps to 2.71%.

Today's economic calendar:
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 FHFA House Price Index
10:00 Existing Home Sales
10:00 Richmond Fed Mfg.
1:00 PM Results of $32B, 2-Year Note Auction

Notable earnings before today's open: ACI, AKS, AOS, ATI, BK, CMCSA, CNC, CP, CSL, FMER, GPC, HOG, HUB.B, IPG, ITW, JNS, LMT, LPT, LXK, MCD, MDSO, MTG, OMC, PCH, PHG, PLD, PNR, RF, SAH, SNV, SPG, TCB, TRV, UTX, XRX

Notable earnings after today's close: ACC, AMGN, BCR, CBST, CNI, CREE, CVA, CYT, DFS, ETH, FBC, FTI, FULT, GILD, HA, HLIT, HTS, IEX, IGT, ILMN, IRBT, ISRG, JNPR, MANH, MSA, NBR, PKG, SANM, SKX, SMCI, SWKS, T, TMK, TSS, UIS, VASC, VMI, VMW, WRB, WWD, XOOM, YUM, ZIXI

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News