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Reports US

US stock market, economy and companies update (March 19, 2014)

March 19, 2014, Wednesday, 16:31 GMT | 13:31 EST | 22:01 IST | 00:31 SGT
Contributed by Trade The News

- Trading volumes are about 30% below average this morning as participants sit on their hands and await the Fed decision. The FOMC is widely expected to taper QE by another $10B to $55B later this afternoon, although the real focus will be on Chair Yellen's first press conference and her choice of words. As of writing the DJIA is 0.07%, the S&P500 is flat and the Nasdaq is down 0.30%.

- UK Chancellor Osborne presented his spring budget to Parliament this morning. The new budget appeared to be neutral in tone ahead of the May 2015 elections in Britain. The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) updated its economic forecasts and bumped up growth views for 2014 and 2015.

- Joe Oliver has been sworn in as Canada's new minister of finance. His appointment follows the resignation of Jim Flaherty, who served as finance minister since the election of PM Harper's first government in 2006. Flaherty's resignation was something of a surprise and no reason was given, although health issues were mentioned.

- FedEx missed earnings and revenue expectations in its third quarter, and blamed the weather like so many firms before it. The CEO said that "historically severe winter weather significantly affected our third quarter earnings. On days when the weather was closer to normal seasonal conditions, our volumes were solid and service levels were high." The firm also cut its FY14 outlook, although its Q4 outlook was decent. Shares of FDX have been in the black since the open of cash trade.

- KB Homes widely beat consensus targets in its first quarter report. The homebuilder saw good growth in new order and its contract backlog. The company said it was actively working to bring new supply to its markets and expressed confidence about the spring selling season. No mention was made of any weather impact, unlike Hovnaian two weeks ago. Shares of KBH are up nearly 9% and other homebuilders are gaining 2-3% a piece.

- Toyota Motor is being fined $1.2 billion over the incidents of unintended vehicle acceleration between 2009 and 2010. The US DoJ said the fine was the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company ever.

- With biotech valuations ripping higher, Horizon Pharma is using its newly valuable stock to make an acquisition. Horizon is acquiring private firm Vidara through a reverse merger for stock and cash valued at approximately $660 million. Two-thirds of the deal is in Horizon stock, with about $200M in cash for Vidara's holders. Shares of HZNP are up 16% after the company announced the deal.

***Looking Ahead***
- 11:30 (US) Treasury to sell 4-Week Bills
- 11:30 (BR) Brazil Weekly Currency Flows
- 12:00 (CA) Canada to sell 2-Year Bonds
- 13:45 (CH) SNB's Jordan on panel discussion in Bern
- 14:00 (US) FOMC Interest Rate Decision
- 14:30 (US) Fed Chair Yellen holds post rate-decision press conference
- 15:10 (SE) Sweden Central Bank (Riksbank) Jochnick
- 17:45 (NZ) New Zealand Q4 GDP Q/Q: 0.9%e v 1.4% prior; Y/Y: 3.1%e v 3.5% prior

***Economic Data***
- (EU) Euro Zone Jan Construction Output M/M: 1.5% v 1.3% prior; Y/Y: +8.8% v -0.1% prior
- (EU) Euro Zone Q4 Labour Costs Y/Y: 1.4% v 1.1% prior
- (CH) Swiss Mar Credit Suisse ZEW Survey Expectations: 19.0 v 28.7 prior
- (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Mar 14th: -1.2% v -2.1% prior
- (PT) Portugal Feb PPI M/M: 0.0% v -0.1% prior; Y/Y: -1.5% v -1.3% prior
- (IE) Ireland Jan Trade Balance: €3.1B v €3.4B prior
- (ZA) South Africa Jan Retail Sales M/M: +0.8% v -0.5%e; Y/Y: 6.8% v 2.8%e
- (BR) Brazil Mar (2nd reading) IGP-M Inflation: 1.4% v 1.4%e
- (RU) Russia Feb PPI M/M: -0.4% v +0.8%e; Y/Y: 3.2% v 4.6%e
- (US) Q4 Current Account Balance: -$81.1B v -$88.0Be
- (CA) Canada Jan Wholesale Trade Sales M/M: 0.8% v 0.8%e
- (PL) Poland Feb Sold Industrial Output M/M: -1.8% v -1.0%e; Y/Y: 5.3% v 6.1%e
- (PL) Poland Feb PPI M/M: -0.1% v +0.1%e; Y/Y: -1.4% v -1.1%e
- (US) DOE Crude: +5.85M v +2.5Me; Gasoline: -1.47M v -1Me; Distillate: -3.10M v -0.5Me