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U.S. consumer confidence surges in March

31 Mar

Employees wait to greet shoppers during British clothing retailer Topshop's grand opening of the chain's New York flagship storeNEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rebounded strongly in March, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

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Wall Street higher as biotechs rally on M&A deals

30 Mar

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeNEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks rallied more than 1 percent on Monday, with biotech stocks among the most active names amid a number of major deals in the space.

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U.S. jobs to add heat to Fed lift-off debate

29 Mar

A "Now Hiring" sign hangs on the door to the Urban Outfitters store at Quincy Market in BostonThe state of the U.S. labor market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike. Fed Chair Janet Yellen made it clear on Friday that the U.S. central bank is likely to start raising borrowing costs later this year, adding that continued improvement of the labor market would be an important factor in deciding when to move. Labor market data are therefore likely to be the highlight of the economic week, providing a further signal to the Fed on the health of the U.S. economy and its capacity to withstand rate rises. Yellen said a significant pickup in core inflation was not a precondition for the Fed to pull the trigger on rates.

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President Xi says China should not focus on growth rate only

28 Mar

Jinping speaks during a media conference in the Great Hall of the People in BeijingChinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that the country should not focus on its economic growth rate only, reiterating China’s push for a more sustainable, higher-quality expansion. Chinese leaders have announced an economic growth target of around 7 percent for this year, below the 7.5 percent goal in 2014 and the slowest rate in a quarter-century. Analysts anticipate further interest rate cuts in China this year.

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U.S. economic growth slows in fourth quarter; corporate profits fall

27 Mar

A man pushes his shopping cart down an aisle at a Home Depot store in New YorkBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. economic growth cooled in the fourth quarter as previously reported and after-tax corporate profits recorded their biggest drop since early 2011, as a strong dollar dented the earnings of multinational corporations. Businesses throttled back on inventory and equipment investment, but robust consumer spending limited the slowdown in the pace of activity in the fourth quarter. Corporate profits from outside the United States decreased $36.1 billion after increasing $16.5 billion in the previous quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had expected fourth-quarter GDP growth would be revised up to a 2.4 percent rate.

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Lower U.S. jobless claims suggest solidly improving labor market

26 Mar

People wait in line to enter the Nassau County Mega Job Fair at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New YorkThe number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to a healthy and expanding labor market. Harsh weather, the now-settled labor dispute at the country’s busy West Coast ports, softer global demand and a strong dollar undercut growth early in the first quarter. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000 for the week ended March 21, the Labor Department said on Thursday. A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data.

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Weak U.S. business spending data points to tepid first quarter growth

25 Mar

Photo illustration of U.S. dollar notes displayed in JohannesburgU.S. business investment spending plans fell for a sixth straight month in February, likely weighed down by a strong dollar and weak global demand, leading economists to further lower their first-quarter growth estimates. The Commerce Department’s durable goods report on Wednesday was the latest data to suggest economic growth braked sharply early in the year, in part due to bad weather and a now-settled labor dispute at the country’s busy West Coast ports. While economists largely view the slowdown in activity as temporary, softer growth could prompt the Federal Reserve to delay raising interest rates until later in the year. The Commerce Department said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 1.4 percent last month after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent dip in January.

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Kraft and Heinz to form North America's No.3 food company

25 Mar

Kraft macaroni and cheese products on the shelf at a grocery store in WashingtonKraft Foods Group Inc, the maker of Velveeta cheese, will merge with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co, owned by 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, to form North America’s third-largest food and beverage company. Kraft’s shares rose 34 percent to $82.50 in premarket trading on Wednesday. The combined company, to be led by Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees, will have revenue of about $28 billion, about half that of market leader PepsiCo in 2014.

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Exclusive: Greece to run out of cash by April 20 without fresh aid-source

24 Mar

A Greek national flag flutters as the parliament building is seen in the background in AthensAthens is scrambling to send a list of planned reforms to its European lenders in the coming days in the hope of unlocking fresh aid and averting bankruptcy. Specifically, Athens is hoping that if euro zone finance ministers approve the country’s latest reforms list then that would allow for the return of about 1.9 billion euros ($2.07 billion) in profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds, the source said. Athens also expects the return of about 1.2 billion euros in cash left in the Greek bank bailout fund that was taken back by the euro zone last month, the source said.

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Stocks up as dollar adds to losses, oil gains

23 Mar

A Wall Street sign is pictured in the rain outside the New York Stock ExchangeU.S. stocks edged higher on Monday following strong gains in major indexes the previous week, as investors assessed gyrations in the dollar and crude prices and their impact on equities. Energy stocks were among the largest gainers as crude oil prices changed course to trade higher as the greenback weakened further. The action in the dollar has closely affected stocks of late as traders focus on the Federal Reserve and its expected monetary policy tightening sometime later this year. The 20-day correlation between the dollar index and the S&P 500 sits at -0.79.

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