#PreMarket Primer: Monday, March 31: Icy Relations Between Russia And The West Continue
Markets continued to hinge on developments in the tense relationship between the West and Russia.
Over the weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss how to deescalate the growing animosity.
However, following the meeting Kerry said that Lavrov provided no assurance that Moscow would pull back on the buildup of troops at the Ukrainian border, but did express a desire to ease tension over Ukraine.
Without any specific next steps in place, most expect the icy relations between the West and Russia to continue. Western leaders are working to deepen economic sanctions on Russia’s vital industries in an effort to force President Vladimir Putin to change course.
In other news around the markets:
- Asian markets were slightly higher after China’s Premier Li Keqiang remarked that the Chinese government was planning to invest further in the nation’s infrastructure on Friday. The comments helped markets as investors have been hoping for further stimulus in China in order to kick start the nation’s stalling economy.
- After three weeks of searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the intensity and magnitude of the search effort has increased. Although satellite evidence showed that the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, no signs of wreckage have been found.
- Japanese consumers are making last minute purchases before cutting back spending on Tuesday, when the nation’s sales tax will go from five percent to eight percent. The planned tax hike has been designed to help pay for the nation’s growing public debt, but many worry that it could have a disastrous effect on Japan’s economy.
- The investigation into General Motors handling of faulty ignition switches showed that federal regulators decided against opening formal probes following complaints about the issue. Investigators also said that in 2005, the company rejected a proposal to remedy the problem as it was seen as too expensive and time consuming.
Asian markets were mostly higher on Monday; the Japanese NIKKEI was up 0.89 percent, the Hang Seng index gained 0.19 percent and the South Korean KOSPI was up 0.09 percent. However, China’s Shanghai composite was down 0.14 percent and the Shenzhen composite lost 0.59 percent.
European markets were up across the board; the UK’s FTSE gained 0.42 percent and the eurozone’s STOXX 600 was up 0.40 percent. The German DAX rose 0.22 percent, France’s CAC 40 was up 0.15 percent and Italy’s MIB gained 0.41 percent.
Energy futures were lower with Brent futures down 0.22 percent and WTI futures down 0.30 percent. Gold was up 0.22 percent, silver gained 0.18 percent and industrial metals also rose. Aluminum was up 1.15 percent and zinc and tin gained 0.23 percent and 0.33 percent respectively.
Currency markets were subdued on Monday; the euro was steady at $1.355 and the pound gained 0.04 percent against the dollar. The greenback gained 0.07 percent against the yen and 0.14 percent against the Australian dollar.
Notable earnings released on Friday included:
- Blackberry (NASDAQ: BBRY) reported a fourth quarter loss of $0.08 on revenue of $976.00 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.22 on revenue of $2.68 billion.
- The Finish Line, Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.87 on revenue of $518.90 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.76 on revenue of $442.68 million.
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
- D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) was up 2.81 percent in premarket trade after gaining 2.02 percent on Friday.
- Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) gained 1.28 percent in premarket trade after falling 1.69 percent last week.
- Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRKB) rose 1.10 percent in premarket trade after losing 1.33 percent over the past five days.
- Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) was up 0.92 percent in premarket trade after gaining 0.30 percent on Friday
- Edison International (NYSE: EIX) gained 0.92 percent in premarket trade after rising 2.64 percent last week
Notable earnings releases expected on Monday include:
- Global Partners LP (NYSE: GLP) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.48 on revenue of $5.59 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.81 on revenue of $5.12 billion.
- UTi Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: UTIW) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.06 on revenue of $1.08 billion, compared to last year’s loss of $0.13 on revenue of $1.08 billion.
- InterOil Corporation (NYSE: IOC) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.04 on revenue of $333.50 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.38 on revenue of $356.44 million.
The star of Monday’s economic calendar will be Eurozone CPI and inflation data as investors look for clues about the ECB’s plans for Thursday’s policy meeting. Other notable economic releases will include French GDP, British consumer credit, Canadian GDP, Chinese manufacturing PMI, and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s interest rate decision.
For a recap of Friday’s market action, click here.
Tune into Benzinga’s pre-market info show with Dennis Dick and Joel Elconin here.
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