- North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Before Xi-Trump Meeting. North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un’s regime as he seeks to build a nuclear arsenal. The projectile was fired into the East Sea early Wednesday and flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles), South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a text message. It follows ballistic missile tests in February and March, as the isolated country defies United Nations sanctions and works on a missile that could deliver a miniaturized nuclear weapon to the continental U.S. Kim has launched a series of projectiles and conducted three nuclear tests since he came to power more than five years ago. He claimed in January to be in the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.
- Zombie Nation: In Japan, Zero Public Companies Went Bust in 2016. Corporate Japan achieved a rare feat in the fiscal year that ended last week. Not one of its almost 4,000 publicly-traded firms filed for bankruptcy protection. Yet that’s no reason to celebrate, according to analysts who see Japan’s easy credit conditions standing in the way of a much-needed, corporate restructuring to flush out failing companies and make room for new businesses.
- Asian Stocks Nudge Higher Before China Reopens. Stocks in Japan and Australia advanced, after the S&P 500 Index swung from losses to gains during the Tuesday session and closed marginally higher. The yen weakened for the first time in four days against the dollar, and South Africa’s rand steadied after a pronounced slump. The Aussie clung to declines after the central bank warned regulators are prepared to consider further measures to tame runaway house-price growth. The yen fell 0.1 percent to 110.84 per dollar as of 9:15 a.m. in Tokyo, following three days of gains. The Topix index climbed 0.5 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index was little changed.
- Tarullo Suggests Phasing Out Key Part of Bank Stress Tests. It may be time to phase out one of Wall Street’s most feared aspects of the annual stress tests conducted by the Federal Reserve, Governor Daniel Tarullo said Tuesday on the eve of his last day on the board. The Fed official who has wielded unprecedented influence over the regulation of big banks said the part of the exams that measures lenders’ ability to weather a major crisis -- known as the qualitative test -- may not be needed much longer.
- H-1B Visa Overhaul Could Actually Benefit Big Tech Companies. The new way foreign worker visas are doled out in the U.S. is poised to benefit some of the biggest technology companies, like Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc., while punishing outsourcing firms that developed a disproportionate dependence on the program. The administration is increasing scrutiny on H-1B visa applications for low-level computer programmers, focusing enforcement on the heaviest users of the program, and warning applicants not to discriminate against American workers. The size and scope of the program remains unchanged for now
Wall Street Journal:
- U.S. Companies Expected to Post Strongest Quarter Since 2011. ‘Now is when we really start to be dependent on what the hard numbers show,’ portfolio manager says.
- Chemical Attack in Syria Puts Focus on Trump Policy. Administration signaled recently U.S. will no longer demand Assad leave power.
Earnings of Note
8:15 am EST
- Asian equity indices are unch. to +.5% on average.
- Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 94.25 -.25 basis point.
- Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 21.0 -.25 basis point.
- Bloomberg Emerging Markets Currency Index 71.98 unch.
- S&P 500 futures +.04%.
- NASDAQ 100 futures +.03%.
Earnings of Note
8:15 am EST
- The ADP Employment Change for March is estimated to fall to 190K versus 298K in February.
- Final Markit US Services PMI for March is estimated to rise to 53.1 versus a prior estimate of 52.9.
- ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite for March is estimated to fall to 57.0 versus 57.6 in February.
- Bloomberg consensus estimates call for a weekly crude oil inventory decline of -70,000 barrels versus a +867,000 barrel increase the prior week. Gasoline supplies are estimated to fall by -1,535,000 barrels versus a -3,747,000 barrel decline the prior week. Distillate inventories are estimated to fall by -795,000 barrels versus a -2,483,000 barrel decline the prior week. Finally, Refinery Utilization is estimated to rise by +.54% versus a +1.9% gain prior.
- The FOMC March 15 Meeting Minutes.
- None of note
- The Eurozone Services PMI report, weekly MBA Mortgage Applications report, (COST) Monthly Sales report, (NTAP) analyst day, (CCL) annual meeting and the (LYB) investor day could also impact trading today.