World Markets Live - February 15 - CNBC Live Events
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World Markets Live - February 15

We’ll be updating you throughout the day with essential breaking news, data alerts, earnings reports and all the major market movements.

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  • Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. Your headlines: 

    • March goes live after Janet Yellen says the Federal Reserve should not risk falling behind the curve by waiting too long to hike rates again, sending stocks and the dollar higher. 
    • Another day, another embarrassment for U.S. vice president  Mike Pence as reports emerge that Donald Trump knew General Flynn had misinformed the Vice President two weeks before Pence himself found out. 
    • Softbank scales the walls of Fortress with a $3.3 billion takeover deal, sending shares in the New York-listed asset manager up over 25 percent after hours.
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  • European morning calls are ready to believe Janet Yellen with a strong positive bias.

    Source: IG Markets 



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  • French bank Credit Agricole has reported a dramatic 67 percent drop in net profit of 291 million euros in the fourth quarter.

    Analyst expectations were for 254 million euros according to a Reuters poll, so by that measure the results must be considered a beat.

    The fourth quarter revenue was 4.58 billion euros versus 4.29 billion a year ago.

    The bank says its Core Tier One ratio stood at 14.5 percent at the end of December.
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  • Dutch brewer Heineken has reported a full-year 2016 revenue of 20.79 billion euros, slightly eclipsing forecasts.

    The net profit figure for 2016 was 2.1 billion euros, again edging past a poll forecast from Reuters.

    Heineken sales


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  • ABN Amro has beaten forecasts with its fourth-quarter earnings, posting better than expected operating income and profit.


    On the phone, the company CEO says M&A is not on the cards for the firm.

    He says all-in-all, European political instability will not harm broad economic growth across the continent.

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  • Vice President Mike Pence was kept in the dark about a warning over former National Security adviser Michael Flynn. 

    The vice president's press secretary revealed yesterday that Pence only learned the truth about Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador on February 9th - two weeks after other White House officials, including President Trump were briefed on the matter.

    The revelation adds to a picture of confusion at the White House, following mixed messages from officials before Flynn's resignation. 

    In an interview with Trump aide Kellyanne Conway yesterday, NBC's Matt Lauer asked her if she was out of the loop.

    Click play to hear her response.

    by david.reid

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  • DSM is planning to increase its dividend after reporting a three percent increase in sales for the last financial year. 

    Feike Sijbesma, CEO of  DSM is on air telling Steve that the sales increase is enough.

    He says although comparisons with 2015's fourth quarter isn't favorable, the yearly performance of 2016 is showing a strong year of sales with an EBITDA twice as healthy as expected.

    Feike Sijbesma, CEO of  DSM sees Europe coming back 

    Sijbesma says on the input side, raw material costs are going up "a little bit" and the firm is putting its own prices up to account for that.
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  • Dutch firm Akzo Nobel has published fourth quarter and full-year results.

    The healthcare and chemicals company reported a fourth-quarter net profit of 203 million euros on a revenue of 3.56 billion euros.

    The total dividend proposed for 2016 was raised 6.5 percent to 1.65 euros per share.
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  • Danone has recorded a 2016 like-for-like sales rise of 2.9 percent in 2016. Total sales for the year were 21.9 billion euros.

    The French food company saw fourth-quarter revenues of 5.36 billion euros.

    Danone is proposing a dividend rise of 1.70 euros per share. That's a rise of 6.3 percent.

    Danone is launching an efficiency drive


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  • Financial stocks gained and US Treasury yields spiked as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave her testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. 

    Sounding a cautionary note, the Fed chair warned there remained considerable uncertainty over the Trump administration's policy plans. 

    However, she also flagged improving economic conditions and indicated the Fed might be ready to raise interest rates as soon as next month. 

    Stocks rebounded after the initial reaction to Yellen's comments.


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  • Dr. Jan Halper-Hayes, Republican Commentator and Former Worldwide VP for Republicans Overseas is on set discussing media bias against President Donald Trump.

    It is because they take him literally but not seriously.
     
     
    Halper-Hayes says Trump respects people disagreeing with him and the cabinet in place are having a positive moderating influence.

    She says she has an enormous amount of respect for Steve Bannon and that the way he is portrayed in the media is wrong.

    And on the under-fire chief of staff, Halper-Hayes says Reince Priebus "grows in to jobs very, very well" and there is no current need to replace him.

    Dr. Jan Halper-Hayes 

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  • The estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader has died. In an apparent assassination, Kim Jong Nam was killed at an international airport in Malaysia.

    NBC's Keir Simmons has the details.

    by david.reid

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  • Early-bird Bojesen is updating us on European equity calls.


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  • Our headlines at this hour.

    • March goes live after Janet Yellen says the Federal Reserve should not risk falling behind the curve by waiting too long to hike rates again, sending stocks and the dollar higher. 
    • Another day, another embarrassment for U.S. vice president  Mike Pence as reports emerge that Donald Trump knew General Flynn had misinformed the Vice President two weeks before Pence himself found out. 
    • Danone net profit rises in 2016 but the world's biggest yoghurt maker looks to save 1 billion euro by 2020.
    • Heineken toasts its full-year earnings beat by forecasting further revenue and profit expansions in 2017. 
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  • Waiting too long to raise interest rates would be "unwise" as economic growth continues and inflation rises, Fed Chair Janet Yellen told Congress on Tuesday.

    Repeating caution that she and other central bank officials have issued in recent months, Yellen said that even though the Fed expects to hike gradually and to keep policy accommodative, getting rates back to normal levels is important and hikes will be considered ahead.

    Financial stocks gained and US Treasury yields spiked as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave her testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. 

    Yellen flagged improving economic conditions and indicated the Fed might be ready to raise interest rates as soon as next month. 

    Click or tap 'play' to hear a snippet of her key commentary.

    by david.reid

    However, Yellen also warned there remains considerable uncertainty over the Trump administration's policy plans

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  • Multiple Trump campaign officials were in regular contact with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign -- according to separate reports by the New York Times and CNN.  

    Trump advisers cited in the reports include former campaign-chair Paul Manafort and then-adviser to Michael Flynn. 

    Manafort denied any contact with Russian officials -- telling the New York Times quote: 

    It's not like these people wear badges that say, 'I'm a Russian intelligence officer.'
     

    Vice-President Mike Pence was kept in the dark about a warning over former National Security adviser Michael Flynn. 

    The vice president's press secretary revealed yesterday that Pence only learned the truth about Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador on February 9th - two weeks after other White House officials, including President Trump were briefed on the matter.

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  • Heineken has reported slightly better than expected full-year earnings.  

    Organic revenue grew almost 5 percent and the Dutch brewer says it sees further revenue and profit growth in 2017, despite continued volatility.

    Sales grew in France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Mexico. However, Nigeria, DRC and Russia all witnessed falls.

    Joining us now on set is Jean-François van Boxmeer, CEO, Heineken International who says that Russia remains a difficult market but "presence there will be continued".

    In the key market of Brazil, he says the market is ripe for growth, especially in the country's north-eastern region.

    Van Boxmeer says with 90 percent of his beer sold within the country it is made, trade is less of an issue but if countries themselves are affected, there will be a knock-on effect.

    Jean-François van Boxmeer, CEO, Heineken International 

    Van Boxmeer says for breweries to own pubs in the United Kingdom can make sense if the pubs are run well.

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  • Asian markets are closed and they are displaying further signs of bullish sentiment. The hard-to-predict Shanghai Composite standing out by staying negative on the session.


    Live on air to talk stocks and other subjects is today's guest host is Cole Smead, Managing Director & Portfolio Manager at Smead Capital Management.

    Smead says we are in a particularly strange environment and "unequivocally there is danger out there".

    We are in an environment where the bond market and the stock market can get hurt at the same time.
     
     
     He cites an example from his hometown where Amazon employees are being paid partially in stock and local real estate prices are zooming up.

    Smead: Trump has changed picture for Tech firms 

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  • European bourses should look to start on a positive note after Janet Yellen, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, hinted at a possible hike next month.

    The FTSE 100 is seen higher by 22 points at 7,230; the DAX is set to begin 55 points up at 11,826 and the French CAC should start 15 points higher at 4,911.
     
     
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  • General Motors is in advanced talks to sell its European unit to the PSA group. 

    This would make the French car manufacturer the second largest in the region, ahead of its rival Renault and behind Germany's Volkswagen. 

    Georges Galliers, Auto Analyst at Evercore ISI is on set and said he likes the deal, particularly from GM's perspective.

    Galliers: GM model doesn't look likely to ever make money in Europe  

    Galliers says OPEL, which forms the main brand in GM's European business, priced at a premium to Audi in the early 80's and you can see how far the brand has fallen.
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  • European markets are now open for trading with the Stoxx Europe 600 opening 0.13 percent higher:
     
     
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  • A quick look at the best and worst performing stocks this morning. Credit Agricole is up more nearly 4 percent this morning after the bank posted Q4 net income and revenue figures which beat analysts' expectations. However, profits at France's biggest retail bank fell sharply after it took a write-down on its domestic retail arm, which it blamed on the low interest rate environment. 
     
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  • Let's take a look at how the individual sectors are performing. Banks are leading the Stoxx 600 index up 0.7 percent, while Travel & Leisure is at the bottom, down 0.5 percent:
     
     
     
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  • Major European indexes are trading higher this morning after Janet Yellen, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, hinted at a possible hike next month.
     
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  • Natixis says it has been placed under formal investigation in France. The country's fourth largest bank says the investigation relates to two statements released in 2007 at the start of the sub-prime crisis and that it will help the authorities.
     
    The bank's shares are trading fairly flat this morning on the back of this news:
     
     
     
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  • Edmund Shing, Global Head of Equity Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas has joined our guest host Cole Smead, Managing Director & Portfolio Manager atSmead Capital Management on set.

    Why is implied volatility so low when volatility in other asset classes, notably FX, is so high?
     
     
    Shing wonders how long volatility can go on being so suppressed.

     Edmund Shing, Global Head of Equity Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas

    Shing says what is interesting is that although stock markets are going nowhere, individual stocks are ripping apart in different directions.


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  • ABN Amro has beaten forecasts with its fourth quarter earnings, posting better than expected operating income and profit. The bank also said it's CET 1 ratio increased to 17 percent. 
     
    Shares in the company are up more than 1 percent:
     
     
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  • Heineken has reported slightly better than expected full-year earnings.  Organic revenue grew almost 5 percent and the Dutch brewer says it sees further revenue and profit growth in 2017, despite continued volatility. CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer told CNBC that protectionism could hurt business.
     
    Shares in Heineken are up more than 3 percent:
     
     
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  • Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway nearly quadrupled its stake in Apple in the last quarter. The fund also significantly increased its holding in the four biggest U.S. airlines.  

    Leslie Picker has the latest on the big moves so click or tap on the play button if you want to hear more. 

    by david.reid

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  • The European banking index is up about 1 percent this morning cheering the comments from Fed's Janet Yellen that a rate rise is coming soon:
     
     
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  • Following on from our last post on the European banking index, here's a look at the top European banks that are all trading sharply higher:
     
     
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  • German 10-year government bond yield hits fresh one-week high:
     
     
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  • Guests Cole Smead and Edmund Shing are flanking Steve on set today.

    Cole Smead is an owner of Bank of America and says buying the stock now is anticipation of higher rates and a looser regulatory environment.

    He warns Bank of America is the kind of stock that can exhibit volatility and investors may need to be nimble to take advantage of the bid.


    Return on assets and return on equity is historically at a low among European banks in comparison to their U.S. counterparts argues Smead. 

    He says that needs to change before European financials can improve their appeal.
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  • The Russian foreign ministry says it will not return Crimea to the Ukraine.

    Yesterday, the White House press secretary Sean Spicer made the following comments:

    "President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea," 

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  • Here are your top headlines at this hour:
     
    • Banks lead European stocks higher after Janet Yellen hints the Fed's March meeting could be live, saying the central bank should not fall behind the curve. 
    • Retail bank reassurance. Credit Agricole shares rise as investors cheer a net income beat, despite a large write-down in its French retail unit.
    • Investors toast Heineken's full year earnings as it beats forecasts and expects further revenue and profit expansions. But the CEO warns CNBC about the threat of protectionism.
    • Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort denies any contact with Russian intelligence officials as multiple reports name him in U.S. investigations.
       
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    Swedish Central Bank holds rates, repo rate unchanged at -0.50 percent. 
     
    Sweden's 2-year bond yield steady at -0.53 percent while Swedish crown falls vs  euro after the rate decision:
     
     
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  • A Russian energy ministry official has told conference this morning that his country expects oil to price in the $50-55 per barrel range this year.

    In essence, don't expect too much volatility.



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  • Swedish Central Bank Riksbank says still a greater probability rate will be cut than raised in near term. The central bank says inflation not expected stabilize around 2 percent until end 2018. 
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  • A little over 30 minutes since the start of the European trading session and stocks are trading sharply chasing the bullish sentiment after Fed's Yellen hinted at a rate hike in the next meeting:
     
     
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  • Social media engagement on Trump-related stories was over double that of Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

    That's according to statistics from content analytics firm NewsWhip, which today announced Series A funding of $6.8 million. The round was led by Tribal ventures and the money will be used to expand technology and grow the company's teams in Dublin and New York.

    Paul Quigley, Founder & CEO, NewsWhip says online engagement needs to be monitored more closely.

    Any given month of 2016, Trump was probably getting twice the engagement of Hillary Clinton. Trump commentary was like a lightning rod.
     
     
    Quigley points out that media consumers are no longer passive and in fact decide on the sucess and pervasiveness of any given story.


    He says his firm's technology is good at identifying stories getting traction early on, and that can help a journalist identify quickly what news may in fact be untrue.

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  • Hi everyone, a fire alarm at the CNBC building means we are all out in the freezing cold. Hang in there and we will be back hopefully very soon.
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  • And we are back! Here are some images for you from the cold:
     
     
     
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  • Here are your top headlines at this hour:
    • Banks lead European stocks higher after Janet Yellen hints the Fed's March meeting could be live, saying the central bank should not fall behind the curve. 
    • Retail bank reassurance. Credit Agricole shares rise as investors cheer a net income beat, despite a large write-down in its French retail unit.
    • Investors toast Heineken's full year earnings as it beats forecasts and expects further revenue and profit expansions. But the CEO warns CNBC about the threat of protectionism.
    • Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort denies any contact with Russian intelligence officials as multiple reports name him in U.S. investigations.
       
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  • Malaysian authorities have detained a woman from Myanmar in connection with the investigation into the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday.

    The woman was detained in the low-cost terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Bernama reported, citing a deputy inspector general of police.

    No other details were immediately available. That's according to Reuters.
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