Thursday Morning Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories Moving Markets

The markets were mixed in Asia overnight. The Nikkei climbed 1.28 percent after three days of losses, which were punctuated by a particularly steep drop on Wednesday. Some component suppliers for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) were caught up in the massive sell-off that followed the tech company’s first-quarter fiscal 2013 results. Meanwhile, other exporters rose as the yen continued to weaken.

The Hang Seng fell 0.15 percent and the S&P/ASX 200 increased 0.47 percent. Brent crude fell 0.20 percent to $112.58 per barrel. In London, the FTSE 100 was up about 0.33 percent ahead of the opening bell in New York, while Germany’s DAX fell 0.17 percent and the STOXX 50 fell 0.21 percent.

U.S. Futures at 8:00 a.m: Dow: +0.04%, S&P: -0.21%, NASDAQ: -1.26%.

Here are three stories to keep an eye on:Right to work

1) “Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that, in 2012, the unionization rate of employed wage and salary workers was 11.3 percent. Among private sector employees, the rate was 6.6 percent,” said deputy secretary of the bureau Seth Harris in a statement. This is the lowest rate of union membership in 76 years.

The low rate is mostly the product of political anti-union efforts in industrialized states, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. Union membership peaked in 1954 at 28.3 percent of the workforce, and saw its most-recent peak in 2008, when unions claimed 16.1 million members, or 12.4 percent of the work force. Recession hit highly-unionized sectors like manufacturing particularly hard. On average, union workers are paid more and receive better benefits, and Harris argues that they are critical to a strong middle class.

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european central bank2) The European Central Bank needs to be more like the Bank of Japan or the Federal Reserve, argue some economists attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week. Europe’s economy is arguably the greatest handicap to global recovery, and some observers suggest that easy-money policies in Europe, like the one championed by the Fed and soon to be adopted by Japan, could revitalize growth.

“Central banks are the only adults in the room,” said Barry Eichengreen, a professor at U.C. Berkeley, in a brief interview with Reuters. “They need to act like it.

3) Due to a wide range of issues, chief executive officers across the globe are feeling less confident about their companies’ growth prospects in the next 12 months, according to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoppers.

The consulting firm’s 16th Annual Global CEO Survey shows that only 36 percent of CEOs worldwide are ‘very confident’ in growth prospects over the short-term, compared to 40 percent last year and 48 percent in 2011. However, the current reading is still higher than the lows of 31 percent and 21 percent in 2010 and 2009, respectively… (Read more.)

Keep an eye out for the initial jobless claims report due at 8:30 a.m.

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