Morning business news - May 7

Wednesday 07 May 2014 11.15
Morning business news with Brian Finn
Morning business news with Brian Finn

The euro is at a 2014 high against the dollar having breached the $1.39 mark yesterday. It comes ahead of an appearance before the US Congress by Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, today and the ECB monthly rates meeting tomorrow. 

Brenda Kelly, Chief Markets Strategist at IG Markets in London, said the volatility was down to a combination of promising euro zone data and some less than convincing economic indicators in the US. "We've seen some euro strength which is down to confidence returning and an unlikely breakup of the euro. There's a possibility of a certain amount of deflation and the feeling that we're looking at less liquidity in the euro banking system," Ms Kelly stated.

Added to that, US growth in the first quarter was less than expected but payroll data in April was up. That will likely be the focus of questioning when Janet Yellen appears before Congress today. "I expect to her to keep on the down low about interest rate increases," Brenda Kelly said. "She will try to keep the markets focused on low rates for some time to come without badmouthing the economy. We may also see some possible tweaks to the Fed's exit strategy [from quantitative easing]," she added.

Ms Kelly said she did not expect the ECB to make any big moves tomorrow and ECB chief Mario Draghi will likely adopt a cautious approach. "He may adopt a dovish tone and leave open the possibility of easing interest rates down the road. When the economy is still fragile he will want to respond to any unwarranted monetary tightening but he will steer against any exuberance and adopt a cautious tone," she said.

***
MORNING BRIEFS - Builders' materials group CRH has reported a good start to 2014 with Europe revenues up 10% in the January to April period compared to the same period last year when sales were impacted by bad weather. EBITDA for the first half of the year is expected to come in at around €0.5 billion.

** UPC HAS reported a 10% increase in broadband subscribers in its first quarter. Phone subscribers were up over 20% but its cable TV subscriber numbers were virtually unchanged.

*** Chinese internet giant Alibaba has filed documents for an initial public offering in the US. Analysts expect it to raise more than $15 billion, potentially surpassing the $16 billion that Facebook raised when it went public around two years ago. The company did nOt disclose details of the number of shares it intends to sell or their price range. It also did nOt say which exchange - the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange - it is looking to list its shares on.

*** Alibaba debuts in a market where high-flying tech stocks like Twitter and Amazon have come under pressure in recent weeks. Twitter's share price took a hammering yesterday as the end of the so-called 'lock-up period' dawned. This is the point at which employees and early investors can sell their shares. It looks like they took to dumping the stock with gusto - shares in the social network dropped more than 18% to a record low of $31.72 bringing Twitter's market cap to $19 billion.

*** Aer Lingus has reported a 12% increase in passenger numbers in April compared to the same month last year. It was boosted by the timing of Easter this year which fell in April but in March in 2013. The introduction of the new services to Toronto and San Francisco contributed to a 32% rise in long haul passenger numbers in the month.

*** Sweden's Finance Minister has waded into the controversy over the proposal by Pfizer to acquire AstraZenica. Anders Borg warned the UK government that Pfizer failed to live up to promises when it bought a Swedish drugs maker 10 years ago. According to the FT, he said there are questions over Pfizer's commitment to keeping science jobs in Europe.

*** The animated movie "Frozen" is being credited with driving Disney earnings and profits higher in the first quarter. The company reported net income for the January to March period of $1.9 billion. Operating income for the movie studio quadrupled in the quarter to $475m on the back of sales associated with "Frozen".