- Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke
Here is what you need to know.
The Japanese yen is surging. Haruhiko Kuroda, the Bank of Japan’s governor, on Thursday suggested the central bank could ease policy even further if needed. Those comments sent the yen as high as 108.02 per dollar, its strongest since October 29, 2014, two days before the central bank announced plans to increase the size of its quantitative and qualitative easing (QQE) stimulus program. Thursday’s 1.2% gain has the yen up nearly 10% versus the dollar in 2016.
China’s FX reserves stopped sliding. China’s foreign-exchange reserves increased by $10 billion in March to $3.2312 trillion. The 0.3% uptick was the first increase in four months and is a welcome sign for China, which has bled through $800 billion of foreign cash after its reserves peaked at about $4 trillion in the middle of 2014. Economists were forecasting a drop of $6 billion.
Venezuela is making Fridays a holiday to conserve energy. Every Friday for the next two months has been declared a holiday by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. According to Reuters, the measure is part of a 60-day plan to fend off a power crunch that has been exacerbated by drought and weak investment in energy infrastructure. The announcement was met with skepticism by many who wondered how kids would go to school and how grocery shopping would get done.
Valeant’s creditors are allowing a restructuring. According to The Wall Street Journal, Valeant and its creditors have reached an agreement that will allow the company to restructure $11 billion worth of secure loans. A person close to the matter told The Journal, “Valeant agreed to pay a fee of $50,000 per $10 million of loans to lenders for the amendment and to boost interest rates on the debt by 1 percentage point, though the rate could decline if Valeant achieves certain financial metrics.” After gaining 18% during Wednesday’s session, Valeant shares shot up another 4% in after-hours trade on word a deal had been reached.
Jamie Dimon is worried about the future of the US. JPMorgan’s annual report was released Tuesday. It was accompanied by a letter to shareholders from CEO Jamie Dimon, who among other things, suggested the US had “serious issues that we need to address.” Among the topics he listed were long-term fiscal and tax issues, immigration, education, and infrastructure. “The problem is not that the US economy won’t be able to take care of its citizens,” Dimon wrote, “it is that taking away benefits, creating intergenerational warfare and scapegoating will make for very difficult and bad politics.”
McDonald’s chairman is retiring. Andrew McKenna is stepping down as chairman of the McDonald’s board of directors after 12 years at the helm. McKenna’s stay on the board has spanned 25 years, and it will continue as he was named chairman emeritus. “It has been a privilege and honor to be part of McDonald’s growth and expansion throughout the years,” McKenna said in the press release. “I am confident that the board will continue to deliver on our progress to enhance long-term shareholder value.”
Bed Bath & Beyond beat. The retailer announced earnings of $1.91 a share, easily beating the $1.81 that was expected. Revenue edged up 2.4% to $3.4 billion, matching estimates. The solid quarter comes after a disappointing end to 2015 that saw heavy coupon use push profits down 10%. “Our fiscal 2015 financial performance reflects the benefit of the significant investments in our business, steady progress on our strategic initiatives, and the return of more than $1.1 billion to our shareholders through share repurchase,” CEO Steven Temares said in the accompanying release. Shares of the retailer were up as much as 8% in after-hours trade.
Stock markets around the world are mixed. Spain’s IBEX (-0.8%) is a drag in Europe after Australia’s ASX (+0.4%) paced the overnight advance. China’s Shanghai Composite (-1.5%) underperformed. S&P 500 futures are lower by 10.25 points at 2,050.00
Earnings reporting remains light. CarMax, ConAgra, and Rite Aid are among the names releasing their quarterly results ahead of the opening bell.
US economic data trickles out. Initial and continuing claims will be announced at 8:30 a.m. ET, and consumer credit will cross the wires at 3 p.m. ET. Natural-gas inventories are due out at 10:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 3 basis points 1.73%.