Global equities are mainly higher on relief that the slowdown in China's economy in Q1 wasn't as bad as expected, with GDP of +7.4% topping consensus of +7.3%. The data helped offset nervousness about the continuing escalation in eastern Ukraine.
The Nikkei experienced yet another sharp move, this time jumping 3% following recent heavy selling. "Japanese shares are rebounding from recent declines because of the yen and U.S. share gains, while Alibaba is supporting technology companies," says market strategist Ayako Sera. Yesterday, Yahoo reported that Alibaba's Q4 net profit surged 110% to $1.35B. That helped boost shares in major Alibaba shareholder Softbank by 8.5%.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong +0.1%, China +0.2%, India -0.5%.
Euro Stoxx 50 +1.1%, London +0.3%, Paris +1.1%, Frankfurt +1%, Milan +2%, Madrid +1.3%.
U.S. stock futures: Dow +0.5%. S&P +0.5%. Nasdaq +0.6%
Moelis' (MC) shares are due to debut on the NYSE today after the boutique investment bank raised $163M in its IPO by selling 6.5M Class A shares at $25 each, giving it a market cap of $1.36B.
The listing is the first for an investment bank since FBR & Co in 2007, but was smaller than expected, with Moelis previously offering 7.3M shares at $26-29.
The firm plans to use 80% of the proceeds for one-time payments to founder Ken Moelis and his partners; via B shares, which are given 10 votes each, Moelis has retained 97% of the voting power in the bank.
U.K. unemployment for the three months to February fell to 6.9% from 7.1% previously and came in under forecasts that were also 7.1%.
Average earnings including bonuses accelerated to +1.7% from +1.4% but missed expectations of +1.8%. Still, the figure brings wage growth in line with inflation of 1.7% after a long period in which salary rises remained well below CPI growth.
The pound spikes and is +0.2% at $1.6802, while the FTSE is +0.4%. (PR)
ASML's (ASML) Q1 net profit almost halved to €249.1M ($344M) from €481M in Q4 but exceeded expectations of €230M. Profit in Q1 a year earlier was €96M.
Sales slumped 24% on quarter to €1.4B, as expected. On year, revenue rose 57% from €892M.
ASML downgraded its H1 sales forecast due to slowing revenues in Q2, saying it expects turnover of €3B including extreme ultraviolet (EUV) systems for producing smaller chips. The company's prior guidance was €3B excluding EUV products.
"That ASML is now including EUV in its sales guidance means a difference on a yearly basis of around €500-600M, which is about 10% of sales," says ING analyst Robin van den Broek.
Ukraine retook an airfield in the eastern Donetsk region yesterday after fighting with pro-Russian militias.
Ukrainian forces have also apparently surrounded the town of Slaviansk, which had been seized by the militias. In total, the separatists have taken over government and police buildings in up to 10 towns and cities in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine's action has prompted Vladimir Putin to describe the country as being on the "brink of civil war;" it has also come ahead of talks tomorrow between senior diplomats from Russia, the EU, the U.S. and Ukraine.
Russia's Micex is -0.1%, while the USD-RUB is -0.4% at 36.095.
Investment bank pretax profit -36% to 827M francs, undershooting forecasts of 1.02B. Revenue from debt trading -25% to 1.49B francs, hurt by a lower contribution from rates and emerging markets businesses. Equities revenue -7.4% to 1.2B francs.
Earnings at Credit Suisse's private banking and wealth management unit, increased 15% to 1.01B, topping estimates of 941M francs.
China's GDP growth slowed to its lowest level in 18 months in Q1, moderating to 7.4% on year from 7.7% in Q4 but topping forecasts for 7.3%. The figure is below the government's target of 7.5%, although the country's leaders have indicated that the goal is flexible as they try to implement reform.
Falling momentum in investment and consumption, struggling real estate, and weak external demand were among the main factors that caused the slower expansion.
On quarter, GDP +1.4%, as expected, vs +1.8%.
The value of home sales fell 7.7% in Q1 to 1.1T yuan ($177B); new property construction -25% to 291M square meters (3.1B square feet).
Industrial production +8.8% in February +8.6% in January and consensus of +9%.
Retail sales +12.2% vs +11.8% and +12.1%.
Urban fixed-asset investment +17.6% vs +17.9% and +18.1%.
MNI Business Sentiment Indicator 51.1 in March vs 50.2 in February.
"All the forward-looking indicators are weak - growth is going to continue to slow," says Standard Chartered's Stephen Green. "We expect a mix of moderate monetary easing over the next few months and more aggressive reform measures."
However, Credit Agricole economist Dariusz Kowalczyk expresses a bit of optimism. "The silver lining is that retail sales and industrial output both rebounded in March, suggesting that growth is bottoming out."
Microsoft's (MSFT) new Azure Intelligent Systems Service allows companies to capture and manage machine data from various embedded devices and sensors, regardless of the OS they use. The service aims to enable Web-connected embedded platforms in verticals such as retail, health, manufacturing, and transportation.
IT outsourcing firms Cognizant and Infosys are among Microsoft's service partners. Intel and ARM are already going after this market by via solutions that combine their CPU designs with related software.
Microsoft is also unveiling its Analytics Platform System, a hardware appliance (to be sold by OEMs) that allows data handled by SQL Server's data warehousing solution (used to process/analyze structured data) and the Hadoop big data framework (used for giant unstructured datasets) to be integrated and jointly queried.
Satya Nadella calls the solution "big data in a box." Teradata (TDC) and Informatica (INFA) are among the companies in Microsoft's crosshairs.
SQL Server 2014 has also been launched. As promised, the latest update to Microsoft's database platform (produces $5B+/year in sales) features in-memory capabilities that arguably make it a meaningful rival to SAP's popular Hana in-memory database.
While going over the products, Nadella declares Microsoft needs to create a "data culture" to thrive, in part by using its own products. "Think of Office as the canvas, or the surface area, or the scaffolding from which you can access the data."
The plunge in coal prices that has sent smaller competitors into bankruptcy is alarming bondholders in Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), as the no. 2 U.S. coal producer consumes more cash than ever, Bloomberg reports.
ANR’s $3.43B of debt equals 37.9x EBITDA, highest among U.S. coal producers, and its bonds have lost more than 9% this year, the most among met coal producers in the Bloomberg High Yield Corporate Bond Index.
"It’s going to get worse before it starts getting better," one analyst says. "It’s a completely oversupplied market."