Japanese GDP growth surged to its fastest level in over two years in Q1, accelerating to an annualized 5.9% from 0.3% in Q4 and breezing past consensus of 4.2%. The economy was boosted by personal consumption soaring 8.5% as shoppers went on a spree prior to sales tax rising to 8% from 5% on April 1. A 4.9% rise in capex also helped. The downside is that the economy is expected to pull back in Q2 now that VAT has gone up.
Eurozone GDP growth held steady at 0.2% in Q1 but missed consensus of 0.4% as France returned to neutral with zero growth after rising 0.2% in Q4 and Italy fell back into contraction of 0.1% following an expansion of 0.1%. At least Germany maintained its role as the bloc's engine of growth, with GDP strengthening to 0.8% from 0.4% and topping expectations.
Eurozone inflation rose to 0.7% on year in April from 0.5% in March but remained well below the ECB's target of just under 2%, while CPI weakened on a monthly basis. The figures come as the ECB grows increasingly receptive to the idea of further stimulus to battle "slowflation" and prevent a slide into deflation, with even the Bundesbank reportedly coming round.
U.S. inflation data is due out before the bell, with economists expecting that CPI rose 0.3% on month in April after increasing 0.2% in March. On year, inflation is seen accelerating to 2% from 1.5%. Anything more than that could again raise questions about when the Fed might want to start raising interest rates. "We expect higher farm prices and seasonally adjusted gas prices to prop up headline CPI in April," say Nomura economists.
Cisco's shares surged 6.2% premarket after its FQ3 earnings topped expectations as EPS came in at $0.51, although revenue fell 5.6% to $11.54B and net income dropped 12% to $2.18B. Sales from switching systems slid 6%, but orders were strong for Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) new Nexus 9000 router line. In addition, demand is recovering in the U.S. and Northern Europe, helping to offset sluggish sales in emerging markets.
The Federal Communications Commission is due to vote today on a proposal to formally allow some "commercially reasonable" deals that would enable Internet content companies to pay fees so that their traffic receives priority on the network. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) are among those opposed to "pay-for-priority," while Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is also strongly in favor of net neutrality.
Sprint's pursuit of T-Mobile could receive unexpected support from Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission. Rosenworcel has reportedly privately said that the carriers might not be able to remain viable if they stay independent. However, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Justice Department are not so keen on a tie-up between Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), due to concerns about the impact on competition.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has signed a decree that extends the state's powers to block foreign takeovers to the energy, water, transport, telecoms and health sectors. The action will give France more say in the potential sale of Alstom's (OTCPK:ALSMY) energy assets to GE (NYSE:GE) or Siemens (SI), with Economy Minster Arnaud Montebourg favoring a deal with the German conglomerate. The risk is that foreign investors could be further put off from doing business in France at a time that the economy is stagnating.
Google has reportedly received requests, including from a politician, to exclude links from its search results following the landmark European verdict on Tuesday that the company can be asked not to display information that is old or irrelevant - whatever that means. Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) are analyzing how they're going to implement the ruling amid fears that they're going to be inundated with requests. "It's just such a mind-bogglingly impossible decision," says Indiana University's Fred Cate.
U.K. chain stores Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail (OTC:DSITF) have agreed to merge in a £3.8B ($6.4B) all-stock deal. With Carphone being Europe's largest independent mobile-phone retailer and Dixons being the second-biggest electricals chain store on the continent, the hope is probably that the deal will create a powerful pan-European player with 2,900 outlets. The new company will be called Dixons Carphone, with shareholders of each firm receiving 50% in the new entity.
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In Asia, Japan -0.8% to 14298. Hong Kong +0.7% to 22731. China -1.1% to 2025. India +0.4% to 23906.
In Europe, at midday, London flat. Paris -0.3%. Frankfurt flat.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.5%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq flat. Crude -0.5% to $101.89. Gold -0.2% to $1303.60.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps at 2.54%.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Empire State Mfg Survey
8:30 Consumer Price Index
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
9:00 Treasury International Capital
9:15 Industrial Production
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:00 Philly Fed Business Outlook
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
10:00 E-Commerce Retail Sales
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
6:10 PM Janet Yellen speech
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