Investors are looking ahead to Friday's March employment report, which will be a key indication of how the economy is doing without the weather being as much of a factor - or an excuse - as it has been in previous reports. Meanwhile, there are several pieces of economic data on tap today. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index will be released this morning. Also, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks to a community reinvestment conference in Chicago. These will be Yellen's first comments since the March FOMC meeting where she roiled the markets by offering a specific time frame for when the Fed could begin to raise interest rates. And the Dallas Federal Reserve will release its manufacturing survey as well.
Ahead of those reports, investors are focused on overseas action. Inflation across the Eurozone decreased for the third consecutive month to a new low of 0.5%. Traders are anticipating new rounds of stimulus in Europe and China.
In other news this morning, Swiss regulators are investigating several Swiss, U.S. and British banks for possible manipulation of foreign exchange rates. The Swiss Competition Commission is trying to determine if the banks exchanged confidential information and worked together to fix currency prices. Among the banks flagged for possible misconduct are: UBS (UBS), Credit Suisse (CS), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), Barclays (BCS) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Several regulators around the world are investigating collusion to fix foreign exchange rates.
The deadline for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is midnight tonight, and there are more problems with the website. Healthcare.gov was down this morning. When people logged on to apply, an error message appeared saying the system isn't available at the moment and to please try again later. The Associated Press reports the system was down as early as 3:20 a.m. ET this morning. The application process appeared to be accessible later this morning. Those who begin the application process, whether in-person, on the phone or online - will be able to continue the process after tonight's midnight deadline. As of last week, the White House said six million people have signed up for Obamacare, hitting the administration's revised goal after the troubled roll-out. The original goal was 7 million by tonight.
One of the stocks we’ll be watching this morning is General Motors (GM). Congressional investigators Sunday said GM approved ignition switches for cars that have been linked to at least a dozen deaths even though the company knew the switches didn't meet GM specifications. The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a memo detailing the new information from officials at Delphi Automotive (DLPH), which supplied the switches to General Motors. Congressional investigators are also looking into why regulators passed up opportunities to open formal probes into the cars in question after complaints started coming in. GM CEO Mary Barra will testify before Congress tomorrow and Wednesday in the first public hearings on GM's handling of recalls related to the faulty switches.
Two momentum stocks are fighting to regain their momentum this morning. Facebook (FB) and Netflix (NFLX) had a rough week last week. Facebook was down 10% for the week, as the company announced its latest $2-billion dollar acquisition of virtual reality company, Oculus. Since its high of 72 hit on March 10th, the stock is off about 17%. Netflix also suffered last week, down 10%. The stock was one of the best performers in 2013, but it is down more than 20% from its high close of $454 a share hit on March 4th of this year. Competition is increasing as more companies look to get into the streaming video space, with Apple and Amazon among those considering new deals and products to expand streaming video.
The breakfast wars are heating up this morning. In response to Taco Bell's new breakfast menu, McDonald's (MCD) today starts giving away free coffee for two weeks. This is a hot topic and we want to know your thoughts. Which fast-food breakfast would you choose: McDonald's or Taco Bell. Cast your vote and post your comments as well.