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Fed's focus shifts to maintaining economic progress, Toshiba warns on its ability to continue as a going concern, and crude gets out of the dip. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that the bank's focus has shifted from healing the post-crisis economy to trying to sustain the progress that has been made. Her comments did little to affect the risk-off sentiment in markets, as geopolitical concerns build in the Middle East and Asia. Voting FOMC member Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari takes part in a Q&A session at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time today.
Toshiba Corp. has had a difficult time of late, with its Westinghouse Electric unit filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and political difficulties in the sale of its semiconductor business. The company has been offering stock holdings and real estate as collateral to lenders as it seeks additional financial support. All of which has led to this morning's publication of its twice-delayed third-quarter earnings without auditor approval, accompanied with a warning about its ability to continue as a going concern.
A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was trading at $52.90 as of 5:27 a.m., after finishing Monday's session at the highest level since March 7. The more than 10 percent recovery in crude prices in the past two weeks has been driven by both supply and demand factors, with the shutdown of Libya's biggest oil field and expectations of increased U.S. demand ahead of the summer driving season. Meanwhile, the credit market can't make up its mind when it comes to crude oil.
Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.1 percent, while Japan's Topix index closed down 0.3 percent as the yen strengthened. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was unchanged at 5:37 a.m. as investors reassess the risks from the French election with a poll showing leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon rising to third place ahead of Francois Fillon. S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1 percent.
Inflation in the U.K. remained at 2.3 percent in March as the timing of the Easter break saw lower air fares compared to last year. The growth in prices has put pressure on retailers with sales in the first quarter showing the biggest drop since 2011. Supermarket operators have been getting creative on passing the price increases on to customers. Staples such as milk are left untouched due to strong competition, but price tags on items purchased less frequently -- such as light bulbs -- had increased by 19 percent since October.
What we've been reading
This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Why bond bears look poised to come out of hibernation...again.
- China is playing a $9 trillion game of chicken with savers.
- Contrarian Oppenheimer call says ditch European stocks for U.S.
- The oil giant hidden in the world's biggest mining outfit.
- Poker-playing engineers take on AI machine - and get thrashed.
- United's removal of passenger triggers social media outrage.
- Rotten tomatoes: Turkish farmers suffer Putin's wrath over Syria.
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