Good morning. Here's what you need to know.
- Markets in Asia were mostly higher in overnight trading. The Japanese Nikkei rose 2.3% and the Shanghai Composite advanced 2.2%. European markets are mostly in the green with the exception of Italy, which is down 0.9%. In the United States, futures point to a positive open.
- The German IFO business sentiment index reading for the month of April slid to 104.4 from 104.4 from 106.7 last month, missing economists' consensus expectation for a smaller tick down to 106.2 and confirming the negative PMI data released yesterday. The gauge of current conditions fell to 107.2 from 109.9 while the future expectations index fell to 101.6 from 103.6, both missing consensus estimates.
- Consumer prices in Australia rose 2.5% year over year (2.8% expected) and 0.4% from the previous quarter (0.7% expected) in Q1. " With activity data continuing to show no signs of a sustained recovery and the unemployment rate edging higher," says BofA Merrill Lynch economist Alex Joiner, "these inflation data leave the RBA on a comfortable easing bias for the time being."
- The Reserve Bank of Australia announced plans to invest around 5% of its foreign reserves in Chinese government debt, following the example of countries like Chile, Japan, and Malaysia, which all invest in Chinese assets. The move highlights the increasingly intertwined nature of the Australian and Chinese economies.
- Apple announced first quarter earnings of $10.09 per share ($9.98 expected) and revenues of $43.6 billion ($42.3 billion expected) yesterday after the closing bell. The company also beat analysts' consensus estimates on both iPhone and iPad sales. However, second quarter revenue guidance, at $33.5-$35.5 billion, was below analysts' expectations for $38.6 billion. Shares ended flat in after-hours trading.
- Apple also unveiled a new plan to return $100 billion of cash to shareholders by the end of 2015, consisting of a $60 billion share buyback program and an increased quarterly dividend. The company will borrow to finance the program, and Apple bonds have already received favorable ratings from the likes of Moody's and S&P.
- Ford Motor reported first quarter earnings of $0.41 per share and revenues of $35.8 billion, both beating consensus estimates for earnings of $0.38 per share and revenues of $33.74 billion. Shares are up 2.3% in pre-market trading.
- Procter and Gamble announced first quarter earnings of $0.99 per share, ahead of expectations for $0.96 per share, but revenues came in at only $20.6 billion, below consensus estimates for $20.74 billion. Shares are down 1.7% in pre-market trading.
- The U.S. Mint sold out of its smallest gold coin this week following last week's historic rout in the gold market as demand more than doubled from a year ago . "This week has been very busy for us," Michael Kramer, the president of dealer MTB Inc, told Bloomberg.
- Durable goods orders fell 5.7% in March versus expectations for a smaller, 3.0% decline. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft and parts (a.k.a. "core capex") rose 0.2%. Economists were looking for a 0.3% increase. February's 5.7% growth in total orders was revised down to 4.3%. February core capex was revised down to -4.8% from -2.7%.
- BONUS: TMZ reports that Rihanna dropped $8,000 at a Miami strip club last week.
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