In her testimony before Congress' Joint Economic Committee,
Federal Reserve Bank Chair Janet Yellen took a reassuring tone and
said that the US economy was back on track after a harsh
Yellen said the bank has seen business activity improve
following the nation's first quarter figures, which had been
depressed due to the unusually severe winter weather.
She said the most recent economic indicators point to growth for
the US in the second quarter.
However, Yellen admitted that housing data was still troubling.
In late 2013, home sales data began to turn downward and has since
shown no signs of improving.
March existing home sales were down for the seventh month out of
eight, while new building permits declined for the second
Yellen told Congress that it is still unclear whether the
decline will continue in the long term, but that it was something
the bank was closely watching.
In other news around the markets:
Following the release of
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd
's IPO prospectus, red flags were raised as the document reveals
several conflicts of interest for the company's founder and
executive chairman, Jack Ma. Ma's investments in firms that partner
with his company have proven controversial in the past, leading
some investors to question the security of an investment in
Alibaba. In an effort to increase profitability and cut down on
announced it was planning to eliminate 19,000 jobs over the next
three years. The bank is also planning to set up a "bad bank" which
will house 16 billion pounds of assets including 115 billion pounds
of risk-weighted assets, and 90 billion pounds made up of European
retail banking operations and investment bank assets. For the
second time in a week, the South China Sea was a point of
contention for China and its neighbors. Dozens of Chinese military
and civilian ships engaged with the Vietnamese coast guard and
reportedly rammed the Vietnamese ship several times causing six
Vietnamese officers to suffer injuries. The confrontation is the
most serious in recent years and highlighted Beijing's willingness
to fight for its claim to the sea. Russian President Vladimir Putin
took his first major step towards diffusing the situation in
Ukraine on Wednesday when he urged pro-Russian separatists to
postpone a succession vote less than a week before it was set to
take place. Many saw his remarks as a turning point which pulled
Ukraine back from the brink of a civil war.
Asian markets were mostly higher with the exception of the
Shenzhen composite, which lost 0.27 percent. The Japanese NIKKEI
was up 0.93 percent, the Shanghai composite gained 0.23 percent,
the South Korean KOSPI was up 0.55 percent and the Hang Seng index
gained 0.20 percent.
European markets were up across the board; the UK's FTSE rose
0.49 percent, the STOXX 600 was up 0.43 percent, the German DAX
gained 0.54 percent and France's CAC 40 was up 0.47 percent.
Energy futures were moderately lower; Brent futures lost 0.15
percent and WTI futures were down 0.10 percent. Gold was up 0.16
percent, but silver fell 0.29 percent. Industrial metals were lower
with the exception of copper, which gained 0.21 percent. Aluminum
lost 0.84 percent, zinc was down 1.14 percent and tin fell 0.28
The dollar struggled on Thursday, losing 0.10 percent against
the euro and 0.15 percent against the franc. The pound was up 0.06
percent against the dollar, but lost 0.06 percent against the euro
and the yen gained 0.13 percent against the dollar and 0.01 percent
against the euro.
Notable earnings released on Wednesday included:
Prudential Financial (NYSE:
) reported first quarter EPS of $2.28, compared to last year's EPS
of $2.28 on revenue of $11.83 billion. 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:
) reported third quarter EPS of $0.36, compared to last year's EPS
of $0.36 on revenue of $9.54 billion. Anheuser-Busch
) reported first quarter EPS of $0.87, compared to last year's EPS
of $1.16 on revenue of $9.17 billion. Duke Energy (NYSE:
) reported first quarter EPS of $1.17, compared to last year's EPS
of $1.02 on revenue of 5.90 billion.
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
Transocean Ltd (NYSE:
) was up 3.65 percent in premarket trade after choppy trading took
the stock up 0.60 percent over the past five days. General
) gained 1.13 percent in premarket trade after rising 1.30 percent
on Wednesday. Unum Group (NYSE:
) was down 0.36 percent in premarket trade after gaining 1.57
percent on Wednesday. Pfizer (NYSE:
) was up 0.28 percent in premarket trade after falling 7.23 percent
over the past week.
Notable earnings releases expected on Thursday include:
Magna International (NYSE:
) is expected to report first quarter EPS of $1.98 on revenue of
$8.90 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $1.59 on revenue of
$8.36 billion. DISH Network (NASDAQ:
) is expected to report first quarter EPS of $0.43 on revenue of
$3.58 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.47 on revenue of
$3.56 billion. Apache (NYSE:
) is expected to report first quarter EPS of $1.62 on revenue of
$3.56 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $2.02 on revenue of
$4.08 billion. Global Partners LP (NYSE:
) is expected to report first quarter EPS of $0.58 on revenue of
$5.35 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.51 on revenue of
The star of Thursday's economic calendar will be the European
Central Bank as it holds its policy meeting later in the day. Other
notable economic releases include the Bank of England's interest
rate decision, Chinese CPI and US initial and continuing jobless
For a recap of Wednesday's market action, click .
Tune into Benzinga's #PreMarket Prep show with Dennis Dick and
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