Asia: Japan -0.2% to 20219. Hong Kong +0.7% to 26754. China +1.7% to 4969. India +0.6% to 26833.
Europe: London -0.5%. Paris -0.7%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures: Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.3%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude +2% to $61.19. Gold -0.3% to $1178.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 2.34%
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
2:00 PM FOMC Announcement
2:00 PM Chairman Yellen Press Conference
Key earnings before the open
Key earnings after the close
CLC, JBL, ORCL, PIR
U.S. stock futures were little changed Wednesday, as investors remained cautious ahead of an update on monetary policy from the Federal Reserve. Investors will looking to the statement, projections and Chairwoman Yellen’s news conference for clues on when central-bank officials will begin raising rates and how quickly successive rate increases will come.
The three-day sell-off in Southern European sovereign bonds has renewed a bid for safe-haven German Bunds, as Greece’s central bank warned of an “uncontrollable crisis” should Athens and its international creditors fail to reach a deal. Spanish, Italian and Portuguese yields have risen to multi-month highs this week in one of the most serious episodes of euro debt contagion since the height of the debt crisis. Their 10-year yields are now 4-6 bps higher at 2.37%, 2.35% and 3.24%, respectively.
This year, for the first time, midsized banks with $10B-$50B in assets will be required to submit Dodd-Frank Act Stress Tests, showing they have enough capital and liquidity to withstand a deep recession and prolonged turmoil in the financial markets. Despite midsize banks accounting for just 7.3% of total U.S. bank assets, about 40 of them will have to disclose outcomes of an exam similar to those undergone by big global groups. The results will be announced by the end of June.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia’s plans to acquire more intercontinental ballistic missiles was concerning and could herald a return to the international hostility of the “Cold War.” Speaking at a military and arms fair on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the upcoming addition of 40 ICBMs to the country’s nuclear arsenal, which would be able to overcome “even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems.”
Extending the uncertainty hanging over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, U.S. lawmakers have voted to give themselves and President Obama until late July to find a solution to an impasse on trade. Last Friday, members of the Democratic party scuttled legislation that would have granted “fast-track authority” for the TPP, by opposing the renewal of a bill that would extend aid to workers displaced by global trade agreements.
Former AIG Chief Executive Hank Greenberg is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that did not award him and other shareholders damages over the company’s 2008 bailout. A ruling on Monday stated that the government overstepped its authority in demanding an 80% equity stake for bailing out AIG (AIG) during the financial crisis, but did not grant any of the $40B in damages shareholders were seeking.
A federal appeals court has rejected American Express’ (AXP) emergency request to halt an injunction that requires the company to let merchants steer customers toward lower-cost cards offered by competitors. Nicholas Garaufis, the judge presiding over the case, previously declared that American Express’ practices wrongfully exploited its 26.4% share of purchase volume in the U.S. credit card market.
Beginning in 2018, companies will have to seek approval before they can put partially hydrogenated oils into foods, after the FDA said the ingredient should no longer be considered safe and laid out far-reaching restrictions. While not a ban, the FDA’s move marks the first restriction on trans fats at the national level. It first proposed the action in 2013.
Twenty-First Century Fox has confirmed the speculated changes to its leadership, naming Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch executive co-chairmen and James Murdoch to the CEO post, effective July 1. Chase Carey, the longtime COO and president, will become Fox’s (FOXA) executive vice chairman through June 30, 2016.
Expanding its portfolio into software design and validation, Keysight Technologies (KEYS) has agreed to acquire Britain’s Anite (ANTUY) in a cash deal valued at about £388M ($607M). The deal, recommended by Anite’s board, is expected to close in October 2015 and add to Keysight’s earnings in the first year after its completion.
NCR surged over 10.8% yesterday after Blackstone and Carlyle (CG) announced they would make a joint bid for the company. The PE firms are offering over $10B, after factoring debt, making it this year’s biggest leveraged buyout. Despite the record bid, the auction for NCR (NCR) is still several weeks away from completion.
Nestle (NSRGY) is cutting 15% of its workforce in 21 African countries because it says it overestimated the rise of the middle class. The company anticipates to reach annual 10% growth in Africa in future years, and with the cuts, it hopes to break even next year.
Starbucks will close all 23 of its La Boulange bakery cafes by the end of September, as well as the two manufacturing facilities that serve those locations. The La Boulange stores are “not sustainable for the company’s long-term growth,” the Seattle-based company said in a statement. Starbucks (SBUX) agreed to buy Bay Bread and its La Boulange brand in 2012 for $100M.
Under Armour (UA) is getting a free pass from investors after announcing it will issue a new series of shares which will have the effect of giving CEO Kevin Plank a disproportionate amount of power at the company in relation to his ownership stake. Analysts note that the new non-compete signed by Plank takes away the Lululemon scenario where the founder of the company exits to start a competing venture.
A new study researched by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union suggests that Wal-Mart (WMT) owns more than $76B of assets through a web of units in offshore tax havens around the world. The report found that 90% of Wal-Mart’s overseas assets are owned by subsidiaries in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, helping the company cut more than $3.5B off its income tax bills over the past six years. Randy Hargrove, a Wal-Mart spokesman, called the report incomplete and “designed to mislead” by its union authors.