"There is vivid interest already from both hedge funds and institutional investors," says Petros Christodoulou, deputy CEO of National Bank of Greece (NBG +4.4%). The €750M senior unsecured bond will be the first such issue by the bank in nearly 5 years, and it's expected to have a 5-year maturity and be priced to yield around 4.5% (the government just sold 5-year paper last week at 4.95%).
The bond sale comes alongside an expected €2.5B equity offering aimed at filling the large capital hole in the bank.
The moves comes as Piraeus Bank - the largest Greek lender - last month raised €500M in debt, followed by a €1.75B equity sale. Third-ranked lender Alpha Bank has also raised €1.2B in capital and #4 Eurobank has an investor group ready to anchor a €2.9B stock sale later in April.
Leaving its benchmark lending rate at 1% for the 29th consecutive meeting, the Bank of Canada gives its blessing to a weaker currency, noting the lower Canadian dollar "should provide additional support" to the country's exporters.
The loonie (FXC) is off 0.2% and buying $0.9091 after the policy statement.
General Motors (GM) will give a first look at the 2015 Chevrolet Trax at the New York International Auto Show. The smaller-sized SUV model is similar to the Buick Encore which has sold better than expected in the U.S.
Land Rover (TTM) plans to debut a new line of SUVs under the Discovery brand name. The automaker sees the brand as its high-volume family division.
Ford (F) will bring out its limited edition Mustang GT on the 50th anniversary of the model's introduction. The automaker has been using the Mustang as a brand builder in global markets.
Audi (VLKAY) is hoping to make a splash with an A3 Sportback which utilizes turbo diesel technology. Automobile analysts think TDI will be a major buzzword at this year's show.
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%
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)
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.
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 March +8.6% in previously and consensus of +9%.
Retail sales +12.2% vs +11.8% and +12.1%.
Urban fixed-asset investment +17.6% in Q1 vs +17.9% previously and forecasts of +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."
Think the Fed is bad? With the Bank of Japan vacuuming up the supply thanks to its own QE program, the government's new issue of 10-year JGBs looks like its going to go 24 hours without even a single trade. Typically, recent issues are the busiest traders, but the BOJ is buying about ¥7T of JGBs per month, roughly 70% of all new issuance. With rates so low and supply scarce, traders say sitting on the sidelines is less costly than trading.
Don't expect the market to stay asleep for long, says traders, with one expecting a big jump in yields rather than a slow creep upwards. 10-year JGBs currently yield 0.61%.