1. Asia Stocks Echo US Drop, Bitcoin Extends Rally: Markets Wrap

    (Bloomberg) — Equities retreated in Asia as Treasuries and the dollar strengthened Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s key inflation metric that will help identify the path forward for interest rates. Australian, Japanese and South Korean shares all fell Thursday while equity futures for Hong Kong also slipped. US stock futures edged lower in early Asian trading.

  2. Gold Holds Gain Before Inflation Data That May Signal Rate Path

    (Bloomberg) — Gold held a gain ahead of US inflation data as traders digested the latest comments from Federal Reserve officials that indicated a pivot toward monetary easing is unlikely before June. The precious metal has been trading in a narrow range this week and is little changed since Friday’s close. The Fed’s preferred gauge of underlying inflation the core personal consumption expenditures index — is due later Thursday, and the read may provide more clues on future monetary policy.

  3. Bud Light Strike Averted as AB InBev Reaches Deal with Workers

    (Bloomberg) — Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch InBev SA struck a tentative five-year contract with workers to avoid a major strike at 12 US breweries ahead of the key summer drinking season. The deal increases average wages by 23% over the life of the contract, and includes an immediate $4 per hour raise in the first year. It also has enhanced job security for brewers, packagers, and warehouse workers, according to a statement from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

  4. McConnell’s Exit Sets Up Trump-Fuelled Fight for Republican Party

    (Bloomberg) — Senate Republicans have to choose just how loyal to Donald Trump they want their next leader to be in the wake of Mitch McConnell’s bombshell decision to step aside after the November election. Three “Johns” — Thune of South Dakota, Cornyn of Texas and Barrasso of Wyoming — are the most likely candidates to succeed McConnell, who has occupied the party leader’s prime suite of offices just steps from the Senate floor for the last 17 years.

  5. China’s Big Policy Meet to Chart Course for Commodities Markets

    (Bloomberg) — China’s growth target for the year — and how it plans to get there — plus the speed of the energy transition will be top of mind for commodities investors as the government gathers for its annual legislative meetings in Beijing next week. Other issues that could draw more policy fine-tuning include China’s backsliding on its energy efficiency goals.

  6. G-20 Stays Quiet on Debt After China Delegates Raised Objections

    (Bloomberg) — Global finance chiefs are poised to march out of their Group of 20 meeting with a sense of collective reticence to talk about just how much they’re borrowing. In the same week that S&P Global Ratings predicted sovereign debt issuance will balloon this year about $11.5 trillion, more than 50% above its pre-pandemic level, ministers and finance chiefs in Sao Paulo seem far keener to talk up the world economy’s outlook.

  7. Snowflake Plummets on Disappointing Sales Forecast, CEO Shake-Up

    (Bloomberg) — Snowflake Inc. tumbled in late trading after the software maker delivered a disappointing sales forecast and announced that Chief Executive Officer Frank Slootman is stepping down from the role. Product revenue a closely watched measure will be $745 million to $750 million in the first quarter, Snowflake said in a statement Wednesday.

  8. Japan’s Factory Output Plunge Adds to Gloom as BOJ Mulls Policy

    (Bloomberg) — Japan’s factory output fell the most since the height of the pandemic, clouding the recovery prospects for an economy in recession and testing the resolve of the central bank as it considers the possible timing of a widely expected interest rate hike. Industrial production slid 7.5% in January compared with December.

  9. China Tells Quants to Phase Out Strategy Blamed for Turmoil

    (Bloomberg) — Chinese regulators are taking steps to gradually shrink the size of a popular quantitative trading strategy that contributed to turmoil in the nation’s stock market this month, according to people familiar with the matter.

    10. Illinois Judge Removes Trump From State Ballot

    (Bloomberg) — An Illinois judge on Wednesday barred Donald Trump from appearing on the Republican presidential primary ballot, marking the third state to impose such a b an on the former president for his role in the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan 6. Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter paused the decision and gave Trump until Friday to appeal.

  10. Baidu ADRs decline as much as 7.3%, the most intraday since March 9, after the Chinese search-engine operator reported fourth-quarter results, which were muddied by the company’s artificial intelligence-related losses. Its subsidiary iQiyi slipped 0.4% in New York trading.

    FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS: Revenue 34.95 billion yuan, +5.7% y/y, estimate 35 billion yuan Revenue from Baidu Core 27.49 billion yuan, +7.1% y/y, estimate 27.31 billion yuan; Revenue from iQIY7.7 billion yuan, estimate 7.86 billion yuan; Adjusted profit per American depositary receipts 21.86 yuan vs. 15.25 yuan y/y, estimate 17.86 yuan; Adjusted operating profit 7.08 billion yuan, +8.9% y/y, estimate 6.71 billion yuan; Adjusted Ebitda 9.06 billion yuan, -4.7% q/q, estimate 8.02 billion yuan; Monthly active users 667 million, estimate 658.74 million (2 estimates); Baidu Core adjusted operating profit 6.20 billion yuan, +13% y/y, estimate 5.98 billion yuan “Throughout 2023, we made significant strides in advancing ERNIE and ERNIE Bot, reinventing our products and services, and achieving breakthroughs in monetization.”

  11. UCB shares rise as much as 4.9% to the highest since May 2022 after the biopharmaceutical company reported earnings for the year that beat analysts’ estimates.

    Citigroup noted the Evenity profit share is “under-appreciated” by consensus.2023 YEAR RESULTS: Adjusted Ebitda EU1.35 billion, +7.1% y/y, estimate EU1.24 billion (Bloomberg Consensus); Core EPS EU4.20 vs. EU4.37 y/y, estimate EU3.68; Revenue EU5.25 billion, -4.8% y/y, estimate EU5.2 billion; Cimzia sales EU2.09 billion vs. EU2.09 billion y/y, estimate EU2.05 billion; Vimpat sales EU394 million, -65% y/y, estimate EU392.7 million; Keppra sales EU636 million, -13% y.

  12. Salesforce Inc. provided an outlook for annual sales that fell short of estimates, suggesting new artificial intelligence features for its software have yet to spur growth. The shares declined about 4% in extended trading.

    Revenue will increase about 9% to as much as $38 billion in the year ending January 2025, the San Francisco-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Analysts, on average, estimated $38.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Now that Salesforce has cut costs and improved profitability over the past year, investors have turned their attention to the company’s revenue growth, which has slowed as many corporations tightened their spending on software. Salesforce, like many technology companies, is investing in new artificial intelligence-based features to help spark sales of its customer relations management software. On Tuesday, it launched a copilot feature that uses generative AI to answer questions and create new content.

  13. HP Inc. reported quarterly revenue that missed estimates, battered by the ongoing slump in personal computer sales.

    Revenue declined 4.4% to $13.2 billion in the period ended Jan. 31, compared with analysts’ average projection of $13.6 billion. Profit, excluding some items, was 81 cents a share, in line with while Wall Street estimates. The under-performance came from the company’s PC business. After two years of declining revenue in HP’s consumer PC unit, analysts projected a sales increase in the quarter. Instead, consumer sales slipped 1% to $2.76 billion and commercial PC revenue declined 5% to $6.05 billion, the Palo Alto, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Both units performed worse than expected. Printer division revenue was in line with estimates at $4.38 billion.

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