Monetary policy decisions, pressured oil prices and Brexit worries are weighing on world shares, as money continues to flow into safe-haven assets. The Bank of Japan and National Bank of Switzerland disclosed their monthly rate announcements overnight and the Bank of England is about to take the mic (see below). What happened at yesterday's Fed meeting? The FOMC kept interest rates unchanged, as expected, while downgrading its "dot plot."
The Bank of Japan has kept monetary policy steady and lowered its inflation forecast, stating the consumer price index's year-on-year change is likely to be slightly negative or flat for the time being. The yen surged through ¥104 to the dollar following the news, sparking speculation on whether Japanese policymakers would intervene to halt the strengthening currency, while the Nikkei tumbled 3.1% to 15,434.
Reiterating its warning that the franc is significantly overvalued, the Swiss National Bank left its negative interest rates unchanged at record lows, conserving ammunition ahead of a British vote on EU membership. The SNB held its deposit rate at -0.75% as widely anticipated, and kept its target range for the three-month Libor steady at a range from -1.25% to -0.25%.
With only a week to go until the EU referendum, the Bank of England is also expected to maintain interest rates - at the 0.5% level it's been for over seven years. The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee will meet at 7 a.m. ET, when it will likely discuss economic factors such as low inflation, slowing economic growth, the pound and other Brexit worries.
Gold has topped $1,300 an ounce after the U.S. Federal Reserve scaled back its outlook for interest-rate increases and Janet Yellen signaled rates may stay lower for longer. According to a Bloomberg survey, bullion will rally further if Britons choose to exit the EU, reaching $1,350 within a week of the vote, but could slide to $1,250 should a majority decide to stay in the bloc.
Vladimir Putin is likely to call for the normalization of ties between Russia and the EU today at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. The event, often called "the Russian Davos," will be attended by representatives of 600 Russian and some 500 foreign companies from 60 countries. Among the VIPs is European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who will discuss a number of key issues with Putin and speak at the conference.
South America roundup... Violence is spreading in Venezuela, leaving five dead, at least 30 injured and 400 arrested after the latest bout of looting and food riots. Argentina released inflation figures - which rose 4.2% in May - for the first time since Mauricio Macri became president in December. Lastly, the fledgling administration of Brazil's acting President Michel Temer was rocked by fresh corruption allegations linked to state oil company Petrobras (NYSE:PBR).
Disney has opened the gates to its first theme park in China, Shanghai Disneyland, marking the company's largest overseas investment at a price of $5.5B. "China obviously represents incredible potential for the Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)," CEO Bob Iger told reporters. The resort is a joint venture with state-owned Shendi Group, which has a 57% stake - a concession agreed during lengthy negotiations.
Recent fund-raising rounds in the ride-sharing market shows it's one of the most expensive. Didi Chuxing (Private:DIDI) has disclosed that it had brought in $7.3B in its latest fund-raising cycle, which included Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), and SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) as investors. The new money is said to give the company a total of $10.5B in disposable funds, putting its valuation at $28B.
VW Chief Executive Matthias Muller plans to unveil a sweeping restructuring today, the broadest overhaul of the company in decades. The revamp, dubbed "Strategy 2025," is part of Volkswagen's (OTCPK:VLKAY) effort to get past its emissions crisis in part by moving aggressively into electric vehicles, self-driving cars and digital mobility services.
Exxon Mobil has asked a federal court to throw out a subpoena that would force the oil company to hand over decades of documents as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it misled investors about climate change risks. In its filing in a U.S. district court, Exxon (NYSE:XOM) accused Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey of violating constitutional amendments on free speech, unreasonable search and seizure, and equal protection.
After three successes, a leftover SpaceX (Private:SPACE) rocket booster crashed Wednesday while trying to land on an ocean barge. In fact, the rocket's failed landing was, according to a Twitter post by Elon Musk, "Maybe [the] hardest impact to date." The attempt came minutes after the Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched two satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The main locations of wreckage from the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the eastern Mediterranean last month have been identified by a deep ocean search vessel. Pieces of Airbus A320's (OTCPK:EADSY) fuselage were found at "several sites", according to the Egyptian-led investigation committee, which is racing against the clock to discover the plane's black boxes.
Tencent is nearing a deal to buy Softbank's (OTCPK:SFTBY) majority stake in Supercell Oy, valuing the Finnish games maker at more than $9B. Steep price? The offer is around 4x Supercell's revenue last year. Known for investing in game developers, Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) owns League of Legends developer Riot Games and has a stake in Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), maker of the Call of Duty franchise.
Dutch chipmaking equipment firm ASML Holdings (NASDAQ:ASML) has agreed to buy Taiwan's Hermes Microvision for about T$100B ($3.1B). The transaction is the latest consolidation in the global semiconductor industry, which is facing an increasingly saturated smartphone market - once a key growth driver - as well as the emergence of deep-pocketed Chinese players.
According to the SNB's financial stability report, UBS and Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) will likely each need to raise an extra 10B francs ($10.4B) in capital to meet new leverage requirements. Last month, Switzerland settled on the final version of new too-big-to-fail bank rules, which included a headline requirement for a 5% leverage ratio of core capital to total assets, of which at least 3.5% must be made up of high-quality CET1. CS -1.9% premarket.
Lloyds has won a decisive U.K. court ruling over whether it treated traders of high-interest bonds fairly, saving it from the threat of paying them hundreds of millions of pounds. It was the final stage in a fight that has lasted several years, and effectively marks the end of the legal process for the rebel investors. LYG +1% premarket.
Philadelphia is set to become the first major American city with a soda tax despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the beverage industry to block it. The City Council is expected to give final approval today to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on diet and regular soda, iced tea, energy drinks, juice drinks with less than 50% juice, and other sugary beverages. Related stocks: KO, PEP, DPS, MNST, FIZZ, SBUX, UL
In Asia, Japan -3.1% to 15434. Hong Kong -2.1% to 20038. China -0.5% to 2872. India -0.8% to 26525.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.6%. Paris -0.5%. Frankfurt -0.6%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.3%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq -0.4%. Crude -1.3% to $47.40. Gold +1.5% to $1307.80.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -3 bps to 1.56%
8:30 Consumer Price Index
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Philly Fed Business Outlook
8:30 Current Account
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet