Oil above $48, European markets flat, Japan cuts inflation target
Oil has seen some ups and downs already this morning having moved above $48 and then dropping back sharply to around $46. Yesterday’s global outlook from the IMF and Iran declaring that its oil industry could cope with $25 a barrel together with ongoing concerns of oversupply with slowing demand means little chance of sustained stability. In Europe the markets are largely flat ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the European Central bank with almost $700 billion of bond-buying anticipated. Asian markets have closed mostly higher with the exception of Tokyo after the Bank of Japan conceded that it may be a while before inflation would hit 2 per cent. The BoJ halved its forecast for the year to April to 1 per cent but upgraded economic growth forecasts from 1.5 per cent to 2.1 per cent. US stock futures are trending lower; oil and gold are trending slightly higher.
MBA Purchase Applications at 7.00am ET
Housing Starts at 8.30am ET
American Express, Ebay and Sandisk are among those reporting earnings today.
Obama says the “shadow of crisis has passed”
In President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress last night he vowed to spend his final two years at The White House to push for reforms that have taken a back seat to the financial crisis. The President wants to tackle inequality by taxing the rich, helping families with childcare and education and raise the minimum wage. He asked if we want a country where only some do well or where opportunities are open to all who make the effort. Facing a largely Republican audience Mr Obama gave a confident speech with an edge of sarcasm and wit concluding that “middle-class economics works” and that his programs will work …unless politics gets in the way.
Oil barons still manage to extend wealth despite prices
America’s wealthiest oil barons have grown their fortunes despite the sharp drop in prices. A report from Wealth-X shows a 7 per cent increase in the wealth of David and Charles Koch since oil prices began their decline in June last year. The brothers’ portfolio of investments is wide enough to have benefitted even where oil revenues have declined. Richard Kinder of pipeline firm Kinder Morgan has seen a 24 per cent rise in his fortune in the last 7 months. Conversely Harold Hamm has seen his wealth halved to $9.3 billion since last summer.
Netflix sees strong subscriber growth
The fourth quarter of last year was a good one for Netflix which increased its subscriber numbers by 4.3 million to 57.4 million. Revenues increased to end the year up 26 per cent to $1.48 billion. The firm is expecting to increase subscriber numbers to around 61 million by the end of this quarter. For the first time the number of new subscribers to the service increased by more overseas than in the US and global expansion plans are pushing forward this year with Australia and China among the targets.
Have you been hiding purchases from your spouse?
Twenty per cent of Americans have made a purchase of at least $500 without the knowledge of their partner. A report released today by CreditCards.com says men are more likely to do so than women (26 per cent v 14 per cent) and are also more likely to have a hidden bank or credit card account (4.4 million men do, compared to 2.8 million women.)