- Reuters/Mohammed Salem
Here is what you need to know.
Janet Yellen says the US economy is on the right track. Thursday evening in New York, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her three predecessors took part in an International House panel. Yellen suggested that the labor market was “close” to full strength and that the US wasn’t experiencing a “bubble economy.” For the most part, Yellen and her predecessors were in agreement, saying that “China’s growing prominence posed more opportunity than threat, and that fiscal policymakers should step up more to support the Fed’s economic stimulus,” according to Reuters.
Verizon is reportedly prepping a bid for Yahoo. According to Bloomberg, Verizon is expected to make an offer for Yahoo next week, and Google is considering a bid as well. The report says Verizon is willing to buy both Yahoo’s core internet business (which Yahoo values at $8 billion) and its stake in Yahoo Japan. Verizon would replace Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Verizon’s executive vice president, Marni Walden, according to the report. The deadline for bids to be submitted is Monday.
Gap announced horrible March sales. The retailer said same-store sales fell 6% in March, more than the 5% decline that was expected by the Bloomberg consensus. The month was especially grim for the company’s Banana Republic label, which witnessed a 14% plunge in sales.”While March proved challenging, we remain focused on taking the necessary steps to improve results across the portfolio throughout the year,” Gap CFO Sabrina Simmons said. The stock is down about 3% in premarket trade.
Pfizer’s CEO is staying. Pfizer CEO Ian Read will stay with the firm after walking away from its $160 billion merger with Allergan, Reuters reports. Read decided not to move ahead with the merger after the US Treasury announced new measures that would block the tax benefits of the deal. For Read, it was the second major deal in two years to be blocked by a government. His attempt at buying the London-based drugmaker AstraZeneca for $118 billion was thwarted by British politicians in 2014. “Read shouldn’t be the fall guy,” Tony Scherrer, director of research at Smead Capital Management, told Reuters.
Stock ETFs saw a sixth straight week of inflows. Reuters reports that data from Lipper showed that stock ETFs saw $3.5 billion worth of inflows during the seven days that ended Wednesday. The main beneficiary was ETFs with US-based companies, as those products attracted $2.3 billion of investor capital while international funds added $888 million. “ETF investors have fueled the bull market since the end of February,” Jeff Tjornehoj, Lipper’s head of Americas research, said.
David Cameron will publish his tax returns. The UK’s prime minister will make his tax returns public “in the coming weeks” after he admitted to profiting from his dad’s offshore fund. Cameron told ITV political editor Robert Peston that he and his wife owned about £30,000 worth of shares in the trust and that he sold his stake before he became prime minister. Cameron’s father’s fund was revealed in the Panama Papers document leak.
UK manufacturing production was ugly. The latest data from the Office of National Statistics showed that UK manufacturing production fell 1.1% month-over-month in February, worse than the 0.2% drop that was anticipated. Production slid 1.8% year-over-year, which missed expectations of a 0.7% decline. Pantheon Macroeconomics says the surveys “point to a deepening of the slump in manufacturing ahead.” The British pound is flat at 1.4060.
Greece is back in deflation. Consumer prices in Greece unexpectedly fell in March. Prices dropped 0.7% YoY, well shy of the 0.2% gain that economists had forecast. February’s 0.1% uptick was the first period of price gains since late 2012. The euro is little changed at 1.1369.
Stock markets around the world are mostly higher. Spain’s IBEX (+1.4%) leads in Europe after Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (+0.5%) paced the advance in Asia. China’s Shanghai Composite (-0.8%) lagged. S&P 500 futures are higher by 11.00 points at 2,046.00.
US economic data remains light. Wholesale inventories will be released at 10 a.m. ET, and the Baker Hughes rig count will cross the wires at 1 p.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is higher by 3 basis points at 1.72%.