The European Central Bank would consider broad-based asset purchases if the outlook for eurozone inflation continues to weaken, ECB President Mario Draghi has said, adding that a further strengthening of the euro could also prompt action.
President Barack Obama has warned Russia of additional sanctions if the latter country doesn't act to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine, as agreed upon in a peace deal signed last week. Obama's comments come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday declared that an attack on his nation's citizens in Ukraine "is an attack against the Russian Federation." He added that "if we are attacked, we would certainly respond." For its part, Ukraine said it would renew its action against the separatists.
German corporate optimism has increased in April, with the Ifo institute's business climate index rising to 111.2 from 110.7 in March and beating consensus of 110.5. The current-situation reading and the expectations print also climbed. Meanwhile, Spain's recovery continued to firm up in Q1: the Bank of Spain expects GDP growth to have accelerated to 0.4% on quarter from 0.2% in Q4.
Apple's shares jumped 7.3% premarket after the company's FQ2 results beat forecasts and it unveiled a goody bag chock-full of treats for investors. Net profit grew 7% to $10.2B, EPS was $11.62 and revenues rose 4.7% to $45.6B. iPhone sales were 43.7M and beat estimates of 37.7M, although iPad sales of 16.35M missed expectations of 20M. In addition, the world is still waiting for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) next big thing.
Along with its results, Apple hiked its quarterly dividend by 8% to $3.29 a share and raised its buyback authorization by $30B to $90B. Apple (AAPL) also announced a 7:1 stock split, which could increase the company's chances of being included in the DJIA. With the Dow being a price-weighted index, one of the arguments for keeping Apple out has been its towering stock price. The split will cut the shares to the $80 range - a more reasonable level for the Dow.
Facebook added to the joy in the tech sector with Q1 results that comfortably topped expectations. Profit almost tripled on year to $642M, EPS was $0.34 and revenue soared 71.2% to $2.5B. Once again, earnings were driven by mobile ad sales, which rose 19% on quarter. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) also said that CFO David Ebersman is stepping down and will be succeeded by finance VP and ex-Zynga CFO David Wehner. Shares were +5.1% premarket.
Novartis' Q1 net profit leapt 24% to $2.97B and beat consensus of $2.7B, boosted by new drugs such as cancer treatment Afinitor and multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya. Sales in emerging markets, particularly China, also helped lift Novartis' (NYSE:NVS) earnings. Net revenues rose 1% to $14.02B, falling short of estimates of $14.25B. Novartis' results come after the company announced billions of dollars worth of deals in a shake-up of its portfolio earlier this week.
Alstom hasn't been informed of any takeover offer, the French industrial group said today. Alstom (OTCPK:ALSMY, OTCPK:AOMFF), which makes trains and power plants, was responding to a report that GE (NYSE:GE) is in talks to buy the company for $13B. "Acquiring Alstom would put an exclamation point on GE's return to deals," said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Steven Winoker. "It is among the best fits we have seen with the GE portfolio for some time."
Barclays expects to report a "small reduction" in Q1 adjusted pretax profit due to a "significant" drop in revenue at its fixed-income credit and commodities (FICC) operations. CEO Anthony Jenkins said the decline reflects "difficult market conditions and a strong comparative performance for Q1 last year." Barclays' (NYSE:BCS) FICC woe echoes the sharp falls in revenue that JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) suffered at their respective operations.
The FDA is set to unveil proposals to regulate electronic cigarettes, which will include an eventual ban on sales to anyone under 18. Manufacturers will also have to gain FDA approval for their products, disclose the chemicals used in the devices and add health warnings about the addictiveness of nicotine. Lorillard (NYSE:LO) commands almost 50% of the e-cigarette market in convenience stores, while Altria Group (NYSE:MO) and Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) are starting to ramp up their offerings.
AstraZeneca's Q1 net profit halved to $504M from $1.01B, with earnings hurt by charges of $967M related to restructuring, amortization and other factors. Core EPS of $1.17 missed consensus, and while revenues were flat at $6.42B, the figure topped expectations. AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), which is still suffering the effects of a patent cliff, affirmed its 2014 guidance, saying it expects core EPS to fall "in the teens."
Herbalife disciplined almost 600 distributors last year for making false medical claims about the company's nutrition products. The firm even stripped 12 people of their distributorships. Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) disclosed the figures to ABC News following an undercover investigation in which the channel found distributors saying that the products could help treat illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and even a brain tumor.
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In Asia, Japan -1% to 14405. Hong Kong +0.2% to 22563. China -0.5% to 2057. India closed.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.7%. Paris +1.1%. Frankfurt +1%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +1.4%. Crude +0.25% to $101.69. Gold -0.1% to $1319.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.71%
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Durable Goods
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
11:00 Kansas City Fed Mfg Survey
1:00 PM Results of $29B, 7-Year Note Auction
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
Notable earnings before today's open: AAL, ABC, AET, ALXN, AMAG, ASPS, AVT, AZN, BC, BHE, BKU, BMS, BTU, CAB, CAJ, CAM, CAT, CCE, CELG, CFX, CLFD, CLI, CMS, CNMD, COG, COR, CRR, CRS, CSH, CWEI, DFT, DGX, DHI, DLPH, DLX, DNKN, DO, DST, EQM, EQT, ETR, FAF, FCX, FNFG, GM, GMT, GPK, GTI, HOT, HP, HSY, IMAX, IVC, JBLU, KKR, LAD, LLY, LSTR, LTM, LUV, MDP, MHO, MJN, MMM, MO, NBL, NDAQ, NLSN, NTCT, NUE, NVS, NYT, ODFL, ORI, OSTK, PAG, PENN, PHM, POT, PTEN, RCL, RS, RTIX, RTN, RYL, SCG, SFE, SIAL, SILC, SIRI, SONS, SQNS, STC, SWK, TKR, TROW, TWC, TWI, UA, UAL, UFS, UPS, USG, UTEK, VDSI, VIVO, VLY, VZ, WCC, WM, WYN, YNDX, ZMH
Notable earnings after today's close: ABAX, AFOP, ALTR, AMCC, AMZN, AWAY, BAS, BGG, BIDU, BLDR, BRCM, CAMP, CB, CENX, CERN, CINF, CLF, CLMS, CRUS, CUDA, CYN, DECK, DGII, DV, ECHO, EMN, EW, FBP, FET, FICO, FII, FSL, GIMO, HBI, HWAY, INAP, INFA, ITRI, KLAC, LEG, LSCC, LVS, MAS, MKTO, MLNX, MSCC, MSFT, MTSN, MXIM, NEM, NR, NTGR, OLN, OTEX, P, PEB, PFG, PKI, QLIK, RGA, RGC, RSG, SBUX, SHOR, SIVB, SPN, SPWR, SRCL, SWFT, SYNA, TCO, UHS, V, VR, VRSN, WFT, WOOF, WRE, WRI
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