Asian markets are down, reflecting Standards and Poor’s potential downgrade of US sovereign debt announced yesterday. Major Japanese exporters were the hardest hit, with Toyota (NYSE:TM) down 1.8% and Canon (NYSE:CAJ) falling 3.1% on the news. Japanese consumer confidence took a blow, largely due to the recent earthquake, according to data released earlier. In other news, Apple (AAPL) filed a lawsuit against Samsung and charged the Korean conglomerate with illegally copying the design of Apple’s popular iPhone. Samsung stock slipped on the news but recover to close the day out with gains of 0.9% after rumors that the company will sell off its hard-drive unit to Seagate (STX). Chinese trade denominated in yuan rose from 0.5% of China’s total trade to 7% or USD 5.2 billion, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. --> Asia ETFs
In Europe, major indexes are up, on the back of strong economic news. German and French manufacturing made steady gains, according to data release earlier today, while the Eurozone-wide trade deficit unexpectedly increased to EUR 7.2 billion in the past month. Higher car sales in France and Germany boosted BMW and Daimler stock. Shares in English luxury-goods group Burberry gained on the back of a 30% increase in revenue in 2Q 2010. --> Europe ETFs
Syrian security forces fired on demonstrators, according to anti-government activists. In Libya, pro-Gaddafhi forces and rebels have reached a stalemate over the city of Misrata and riots rocked Nigeria following a recent presidential election. Despite turmoil in key oil-producing regions, crude prices slipped and are currently trading at USD 106.35 per barrel in New York. --> Energy ETFs
In the US, investors await data on building permits and housing starts, which is to be released before the start of trading. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that the latest round of quantitative easing will not stop “cold turkey,” but rather will gradually wind down and could possibly continue beyond the June deadline. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is set to hire 50,000 workers in a single day today, which should reflect positively in April’s employment report.
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