Major markets were mixed in Asia on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei index climbed 2.99 percent after Haruhiko Kuroda, the nation’s new central bank governor, spoke before parliament. The Hang Seng edged down 0.14 percent while the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.56 percent.
Major European markets entered decidedly negative territory, ostensibly reflecting soft inflation data. Germany’s DAX was off just 0.08 percent, but London’s FTSE 100 was off 0.41 percent and the STOXX 50 index was off 0.42 percent.
U.S. futures at 8:35 a.m.: DJIA: -0.03%, S&P 500: +0.06%, NASDAQ: +0.06%.
Here are three stories to keep an eye on:
1) “The key is how Kuroda manages to sustain market expectations,” Yasunari Ueno, chief market economist at Mizuho Securitities in Tokyo, told Reuters. All eyes are on Kuroda this week as he addresses Japanese parliament and outlines his plan to restart the nation’s stagnant economy. On Tuesday, Kuroda addressed the need to combine the central bank’s two separate bond-buying programs into a single, straightforward initiative. Ostensibly, this would help clear up the balance sheet and clarify expectations for growth.
Sources familiar with the BOJ’s thinking tell Reuters that Kuroda’s plan to combine the bond-buying plans could face resistance from board members concerned about the amount of debt on the central bank’s balance sheet…
2) Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades swore in Haris Georgiades as the nation’s new finance minister on Wednesday. Georgiades — an economics graduate from the University of Reading and just 40 years old — is the second appointment in six weeks. He succeeds Michael Sarris, who stepped down amid a probe into the country’s two largest banks.
3) The annual inflation rate in the euro area for March is expected to be 1.7 percent, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This is in line with expectations, but slightly below the 2.0 percent target rate set by the European Central Bank. This inflation data follows news that euro area unemployment remained high at 12.0 percent.
Here’s a breakdown of recent inflation rates in the euro area and March expectations:
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