Asia: Japan +0.9% to 20197. Hong Kong -0.4% to 27585. China +0.7% to 4448. India +0.7% to 27837.
Europe: London flat. Paris -0.2%. Frankfurt -0.2%.
Futures: Dow flat. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.9% to $58.53. Gold +0.1% to $1208.40.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.26%
7:00 Mortgage Applications
10:30 Oil Inventories
2:00 PM FOMC minutes
Key earnings before the open
AEO, EV, EVLV, HRL, LOW, SFUN, SPLS, TGT
Key earnings after the close
BRS, CRM, EGHT, HGR, LB, NTAP, RXN, SCVL, SNPS, WSM, WSTL, XNET, YOKU
U.S. stock futures are trading little changed on Wednesday, marking time ahead of closely watched Federal Reserve minutes that could give clues to the timing of a first interest-rate hike. With no other significant data in the pipeline, all eyes are on the minutes from the April 29 meeting where the FOMC downgraded its assessment of growth, blaming the bad winter weather, the West Coast port strike and a stronger dollar. The comments lowered expectations that the central bank would hike rates as soon as June. Some economists believe the minutes could eliminate any slim chance of a move in June and instead point to September as the start of rate tightening.
Greece will not be able to make a €1.5B repayment to the IMF that falls due on June 5 if there is no deal with its international creditors by then, the government’s parliamentary speaker said today. “Now is the moment that negotiations are coming to a head. Now is the moment of truth, on June 5,” Nikos Filis, from the ruling Syriza party, told Greek television.
The Los Angeles City Council – our nation’s second-largest city – voted yesterday to increase its minimum wage to $15/hour from $9 by 2020, putting more pressure on cities across the country to enact similar measures. The increase passed in a 14-1 vote, and comes as workers across the country rally for higher wages, and several large companies, including Facebook (FB) and Walmart (WMT), have already moved to raise their wages.
The Japanese economy staged a comeback in Q1, expanding at an annualized 2.4% vs. the previous quarter and beating estimates for 1.5%. Despite the seemingly positive figure, economists are still worried about Japanese growth and deflation as most of the expansion was due to a huge build-up of inventories.
Bank of England policymakers voted unanimously to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5% when they met this month, minutes from their meeting showed Wednesday. BOE officials also anticipate economic growth in the U.K. to accelerate in the second quarter following a soft start to the year, putting Q/Q growth at 0.7% in Q2, up from 0.3% in Q1.
Altice has agreed to buy a controlling stake in U.S. cable company Suddenlink in a deal valued at $9.1B, boosting the fast-growing European group into one of the world’s largest communications markets. Altice (ATCEY) will acquire 70% of Suddenlink from the company’s owners, P-E firm BC Partners and CPP Investment Board.
Computer Sciences (CSC) confirms it will be separating its commercial IT services and U.S. public sector operations into two publicly traded companies. The company also declared a special cash dividend of $10.50 per share as a part of the deal.
HSBC has become one of the biggest global banks to say it will begin charging clients on deposits in a basket of European currencies to prevent its profit margins from being crushed in a record low-interest rate environment. The unusual steps come after the ECB became the first big central bank to announce a negative deposit rate – in effect a penalty on banks parking their surplus cash – last year.
Pep Boys (PBY) soars in the premarket following reports that P-E firm Golden Gate and other suitors approached the auto-parts retailer regarding a takeover. Pep Boys isn’t currently in negotiations with any of the parties and it is not yet clear whether the company even wants to sell.
Three months after the companies reached a deal to include tweets within Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) search results, Google is adding Twitter’s (TWTR) content to its U.S. English mobile results, both via the company’s mobile site and its widely-used Android/iOS search apps. PC integration and support for other countries will arrive later.
CEO Bill McDermott has once again ruled out that SAP (SAP) has any interest in buying rival Salesforce.com (CRM) and went further today by saying that Salesforce is unlikely to be acquired by any rival in the industry. Salesforce reports FQ1 results after the bell today.
With increasing pressure from U.S. regulators, Takata (TKTDY) is now doubling a recall of potentially deadly air bags to nearly 34M vehicles, making it the largest automotive recall in American history. The recall involves passenger and driver-side air bag inflators in vehicles made by 11 automakers and boosts the number of vehicles affected globally since 2008 to more than 53M.
UBS (UBS) has finally settled a probe by U.S. authorities over alleged rigging of currency markets by agreeing to pay $545M in combined fines and pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud and allegations that it rigged Libor rates. The move marks the first time the DOJ revoked a non-prosecution agreement in the banking industry, signaling its determination to crack down on repeat offenders. More fines for five of the world’s biggest banks are scheduled to be announced later today.
United Technologies is talking to potential buyers about its Sikorsky Aircraft business, raising the prospect that a spinoff could turn into a sale. Boeing (BA), Airbus (EADSY) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) are reportedly among the companies exploring bids or a potential minority stake in the helicopter maker. Analysts estimate Sikorsky could fetch approximately $10B in a full sale.
Whirlpool (WHR) and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) have starting selling their B.blend machine in Brazil, putting pressure on Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR), Coca-Cola (KO), and SodaStream (SODA). The B.blend has the distinction of being the first all-purpose beverage maker with its capacity to make hot, cold, or carbonated single-serve drinks.
Yahoo slipped before the close yesterday after a Bloomberg report suggested that the IRS was mulling a rule-change that could complicate the media firm’s efforts to exit its stake in Alibaba (BABA). Any obstacle to the spinoff would erode the appeal for shareholders who bought Yahoo (YHOO) betting they would get a tax-free payout when the deal closes.