Asia: Japan -1% to 19570. Hong Kong +0.1% to 27286. China +0.1% to4379. India -0.2% to 27206.
Europe: London -0.1%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.1%.
Futures: Dow +0.4%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +0.5%. Crude -0.2% to $60.40. Gold -0.2% to $1216.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -2 bps to 2.25%
8:30 Jobless Claims
8:30 Producer Price Index
10:30 Natural Gas Inventory
1:00 PM Results of $16B, 30-Year Note Auction
Key earnings before the open
CSTM, GIL, HIMX, KSS, MANU, MMYT, PBH, PERY, PLCE, QIWI, TK, TNK
Key earnings after the close
AMAT, ANET, DAR, EXP, HTHT, JWN, KING, LOCO, SANW, SINA, SYMC, WB
U.S. stock futures point to an upbeat trading day ahead of economic data that could further weaken the case for an imminent Federal Reserve rate hike. Economic indicators due for release Thursday will be assessed in light of the rate-rise debate. Weekly jobless claims are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The data are expected to show 275,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of 10,000 over the previous week.
The dollar languished at three-month lows today after poor U.S. retail sales proved a huge disappointment to those expecting some sort of U.S. rebound from a weather-weakened Q1. The key measure of sales was flat in April, adding to other disappointing data that could see the Fed postpone a rate hike and analysts downgrade their growth forecasts for the rest of the year. The dollar index last traded down 0.5% at 93.27. It has now shed nearly 7% from a 12-year peak of 100.39 set in March.
The vicious selloff in the European bond market has continued into another session, after German and U.S. bond yields surged to their highest levels in over five months. The startling rise in yields is making equities look more expensive in comparison to debt, keeping stock markets subdued.
Greece’s debt is not viable and the country’s debt repayments to the ECB should be delayed, Greece’s finance minister declared on Thursday. “Over July-August the finance ministry will have to borrow €6.7B from our partners in one way or the other to repay bonds from the SMP program,” said Yanis Varoufakis. “About €27B of those bonds are still left…and should be pushed back to the distant future.” Yesterday, data confirmed that Athens slipped back into recession in Q1. GDP fell 0.2% during the period, following a 0.4% contraction in Q4.
Senate leaders have reached an agreement to revive a bill that would provide fast-track authority for the TPP, one day after the chamber’s Democrats blocked the measure. The solution calls for separate votes on bills intended to protect U.S. firms from currency manipulation and unfair trade practices. On this second try, enough Democrats are expected to support the legislation.
Saudi Arabia says its strategy of squeezing high-cost rivals such as U.S. shale producers is succeeding, as it seeks to reassert itself as the dominant force in the global oil market. “There is no doubt about it, the price fall of the last several months has deterred investors away from expensive oil including U.S. shale, deep offshore and heavy oils,” a Saudi official told the FT. The kingdom’s production rose to a record high of 10.3M bpd in April and there is no sign it will reverse its policy at the OPEC meeting next month in Vienna.
Along with other advocacy groups, Dish Network (DISH) and Cogent Communications (CCOI) have spelled out the conditions they’d like to see for a successful AT&T (T) purchase of DirecTV (DTV). In a meeting last week, they asked the FCC to demand that AT&T promise to sell Internet as a standalone service at a reasonable price and make AT&T comply with stricter net neutrality provisions for seven years, regardless of how AT&T’s suit against the rules comes out.
Corporate America may become more encouraged to say no to deep-pocketed activist investors after DuPont (DD) beat back the challenge from Trian’s Nelson Peltz in this year’s most prominent challenge to management. The outcome demonstrates how a CEO with strong allies among its largest investors can fend off activist advances, and could provide a model for how leaders handle future battles against activist hedge funds.
Following Wednesday’s massive recall, Honda (HMC) and Daihatsu (DHTMY) said they would recall more than 5M cars to replace the potentially fatal air bag inflators made by Takata (TKTDY), bringing the total amount of vehicles called back since 2008 to 36M. Yesterday, Toyota (TM) and Nissan (NSANY) said they would take back some 6.5M vehicles after investigations showed the inflators were not properly sealed and could be damaged by moisture.
The auction for RadioShack’s trademark, customer data and other intellectual property has closed with Standard General posting a $26.2M winning bid. RadioShack (RSHCQ) filed for bankruptcy in February after years of heavy competition from online and bricks-and-mortar rivals. Since then, the electronics retailer has sold 1,700 of its stores to Standard General, which will be co-branded with Sprint (S) and has announced plans to shut down the others.
Sharp has secured a $1.7B bailout from banks, its second major rescue in three years, after its display business came under intense pricing pressure from Asian rivals. Mizuho Bank and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ will inject a combined ¥200B in a debt-for-equity swap, while Japan Industrial Solutions will provide ¥25B in funding. Sharp (SHCAY) also posted a full-year net loss of ¥222.4B ($1.9B) today, its third loss in four years.
Scheduled to roll out this summer, Wal-Mart (WMT) has confirmed a new subscription shipping service that will offer unlimited shipping for $50 per year – half the cost of Amazon (AMZN) Prime. The service, codenamed Tahoe, will bring items to consumers in three days or less and apply to “more than a million” items. New reports also suggest that Wal-Mart and Alibaba’s (BABA) partnership could expand beyond the recent test of using Alipay systems in Wal-Mart’s stores in China.