World Markets Live - March 20 - CNBC Live Events
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World Markets Live - March 20

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

  • Vodafone has struck a deal to merge its Indian operations with local rival Idea Cellular to create one of the worlds biggest telecoms groups. The combined  company would have almost 400 million customers, giving it 35 percent of market share in India.
     
    However, shares are flat on the news. Over 3 months, shares are up more than 4 percent.
     
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Unilever is reportedly preparing a £6 billion sale of some of its food brands. According to the U.K's Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, the consumer goods giant is planning to sell its Flora margarine and Stork butter brands. 
     
    Shares in the company are down a little on the news, dipping 0.11 percent. Over 3 months, the share prices is up more than 25 percent.
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Charles Newsome at Investec Wealth says he's concerned that  Vodafone are "price takers rather than price givers".

    Everbody knows the price of a sim, so you can go on a price comparison site, get the best deal. You then go back to Vodafone tell them the price and they have no option but to take it.
     

    Credit Suisse's Bob Parker agrees. 

    He says high levels of competition, rising interest rates and free communication on the internet are all factors that are hurting telco's such as Vodafone.

    Comment ()
  • Bernstein has updated it price targets for luxury stocks. The biggest move was on Burberry with the target lifted from 1350p to 1600p.
     
    But it did downgrade its rating on Kering, the owner of Gucci, to 'market-perform' from 'outperform' after a recent strong performance. It also downgraded Prada to 'underperform'.  
     
    Burberry shares are up marginally today, with Kering and Prada shares fell.
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Head line commodity prices are rising even as companies in the sector are reining in capital expenditure. 

    In Beijing, where global CEO's have gathered for the China development Forum, Geoff asked Jean-Sebastien Jacques CEO of Rio Tinto if this trend was sustainable.

    There are 4 key drivers in terms of price formation of iron ore. 

    The first one, that we just discussed is the health of the Chinese economy - no concerns for 2017. 

    The second one is about the steel restructuring in China, and as I said that could be good opportunities for us, not only in terms of volume, but in terms of quality. 

    The third one in the price formation is about additional capacity, iron ore capacity in Brazil, in Australia but I believe it's already fully reflected in the price. 

    Now the fourth driver which is the key source of uncertainty, and therefore potential volatility, in terms of iron ore prices is in relation to the iron ore production in China. 3 years ago they used to produce above 400 million tonnes, at this point in time, our base view is about 270 million metric tonnes.
     
     
     
     
     
     Jean-Sebastien Jacques, CEO of Rio Tinto
     


    Comment ()
  • Headlines after 30 minutes of European trade are as follows:

    • Germany hits back after Donald Trump tweets the country is not paying its way, following a tense meeting with Angela Merkel in Washington. 
    • Sterling rises to a 3 week high against the dollar. This as the greenback slips on the back of the G20, where other nations succumb to U.S. pressure on free trade. 
    • Deutsche Bank hopes to raise over 8 billion euros by selling its shares at a 35 percent discount, as the lender kicks off its capital raising to shore up its books. 
    • A telecoms giant is born as Vodafone merges its India unit with Idea Cellular, creating one of the world's biggest groups with almost 400 million users. 
    Comment ()
  • The dollar has slipped against several major currencies today. The U.S. currency has taken a hit following the weekend's G20 meeting, where finance ministers succumbed to U.S. pressure on free trade and decided to drop their joint pledge against protectionism.
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Russia's finance minister says the rouble is overvalued by up to 12 percent, according to Interfax, Reuters reports.
     
    The finance minister also said the government may buy up to $1 billion to cover budget needs in 2017.
     
    The rouble has gained about 6 percent against the dollar so far this year.
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Gold continues to make gains today, continuing its rise from last week.
     
    The precious metal is benefiting from the fall in the dollar.
     
    Gold has today hit a 2-week high as the Fed's rate hike outlook continues to weigh on the U.S. currency.
     
     
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  • Many people in Germany belive that Angela Merkel has done a good job but is a little bit tired.
     
     
     
     
     
     - Thomas Opperman, chief whip of the SPD party in Germany.

    Opperman says it is incredible how the party's new leader Martin Schulz has rallied the party to such high levels of support.

    Martin Schulz has been officially elected leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party and will challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in the general elections next September. 

    In some polls Schulz ins on course to unseat the CDU leader and German chancellor Angela Merkel in elections later this year.

    Martin Schulz, newly confirmed leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party

    Comment ()
  • Shares in Italian national daily live blog, CNBC, business news, real time eventspaper Il Sole 24 are spiking hard this morning. 

    The media outlet today reported a full year preliminary revenue of 284 million euros, dropping from 325 million a year ago.

    The firm posting an EBIT loss of 69 million euros but predicts a positive EBIT by 2018.


    Comment ()
  • Oil prices have pared earlier losses, but remain lower this morning. 
     
    Crude prices dropped on increased U.S. drilling activity and steady supplies from OPEC producers. 
     
    However, analysts believe the market will soon tighten as OPEC production cuts filter through the system. Analysts at AB Bernstein had this to say in a note to clients, Reuters reports.
     
    The cuts in OPEC production from the start of 2017 should start to show up between mid-March (now) and mid-April. Over the coming weeks we expect a sharp reduction in imports and increase in refining runs which should lead to impressive crude inventory draws.
     
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Chinese iron ore production is a key source of uncertainty affecting commodity prices.
     
    That's according to Jean-Sébastien Jacques, chief executive for Rio Tinto, speaking to CNBC.
     
    Shares in the miner are flat today, although they are up more than 46 percent over the past 6 months.
     
     
    For more from the interview with Jacques, click here.
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  • The continuing uncertainty over what currency Scotland would use as an independent nation has been addressed by the country's top politician.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has aid that contiunuing to use sterling is "the starting point of our consideration".

    Other options mooted for Scotland are the euro, a new currency altogether or a pound pegged to the rest of the U.K. currency.

    Nicola Sturgeon on October 15, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

    Comment ()
  • In Beijing at the China Development Forum, Geoff has caught up with former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen.

    William Cohen:Need to follow the money 

    Cohen told Geoff doesn't think U.S. President Trump will be able to have a warming of relations with President Putin until the issue of money, and the trail of money, is resolved. 

    There is a cloud hanging over the Trump administration, saying what is the nature and basis of this bromance? 

    Namely that you could embrace Putin given what he's done in Crimea, given the fact he's tried to destabilize Ukraine, given the fact he's tried to cause some anxiety in the Baltic etc, and it's inexplicable at this point, so I think he's going to have to be more forthcoming. 
     
     
     
     


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  • A telecoms giant is born as Vodafone merges its India unit with Idea Cellular, creating one of the world's biggest groups with almost 400 million users. 
     
    An executive from Idea says the deal is consistent with India's M&A rules, and says there will be many exciting opportunities for both Idea and Vodafone employees.
     
    For more on this story click here.
    Comment ()
  • European markets are in sell mode this morning.

    The indices are being restrained by lower oil prices which have moved lower following increased U.S. drilling activity. 

    Equity appetite has also been suppressed by commentary from the G-20 in Germany over the weekend that appears to suggest there will be less acceptance from some countries, particularly the U.S., for global free trade.


    Oil prices are off more than 1 percent in session.


    Comment ()

  • Oil prices have entered a bearish trend despite short-term bounces, supply cuts and improved demand estimates.
     
     
     
     
     
    - Daniel Lacalle, CIO of Tressis Gestion

    Lacalle explains the rationale for this statement in his guest editorial which you can read here.

    An alternative view on the oil price direction has been put forward by analysts at AB Bernstein who say in a note today that cuts in OPEC production from the start of 2017 should start to show up between now and mid-April. 

    Over the coming weeks we expect a sharp reduction in imports and increase in refining runs which should lead to impressive crude inventory draws.
     
     
     

     Oil on a bearish path.

    Comment ()
  • President Donald Trump's approval rating has hit a new low, according to the latest Gallup poll.

    As of Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, Trump's approval rating has sunk to 37 percent, while those who disapprove of the president's job stands at 58 percent. 

    His approval rating stood at 45 percent one week prior.


    Source: Gallup 
     


    Comment ()
  • Arjun is in Hannover with Kiyoshi Mori, Director-General for International Cyber Economic Policy, at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

    Arjun begins by asking Mori what Japan is focusing on for the digital age?

    He says says Japan spends 3.6 percent of GDP on digital research and development, outstroipping Germany and the United States.

    Mori says more than 70 percent of research money comes from  the private sector and the bulk of fundin focusses on Information and Communications Technology, Life Sciences and Environment.

    CEBIT Technology conference in Hannover 

    Moris says Japan is working hard to research and allay fears over how robots and Artificial Intelligence interacts with humans.

    Comment ()
  • Hugo Boss is the worst performing stock on the Stoxx 600 classification this morning.

    The stock reacting after GBL, the holding company of Belgium's richest man, Albert Frerre, released results on Friday which showed no shareholding in Hugo Boss.

    The fashion house saw its stock jump last month after a magazine in Germany reported that Frere had taken a 3 percent stake.


    Comment ()
  • Markets are selling off mildly this morning. This seen as reaction to finance ministers from the world's biggest economies dropiing an anti-protectionist commitment after opposition from the US.




    Gold on of the few winners today. For more on the precious metal and why it could continue to shine, check out this story.



    Comment ()
  • The U.S. President Donald Trump is still fixated with the election result and the Democrats inability to win the election last November. 


    And he appears to be questioning former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.

    Clapper has previously stated that President Donald Trump's wiretapping claims are not true. As a reminder, Trump has accused the Obama administration of bugging him.


    Later today, FBI Director James Comey will give testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. He is expected to reject Trump's allegations of wiretapping.
    Comment ()
  • JP Morgan has lowered its Brent oil price forecasts for 2017 and 2018 to $55.75 per barrel and $55.50  per barrel, respectively.

    For WTI, JP Morgan's new figures are $53.75 per barrel this year and $53.50 in 2018.

    This according to Reuters.

    Today's prices, at last print, are as follows:


    Comment ()
  • The following has been published on the UK. government's website.

    "The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, has this morning informed the office of European Council President, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29, 2017.

    This meets the UK’s longstanding commitment to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017."

    On the same page, which can be found here, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis said:

    "Last June, the people of the UK made the historic decision to leave the EU. Next Wednesday, the Government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50.

    We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation.

    The Government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union."
    Comment ()
  • The Article 50 trigger will be pulled on March 29 according to the spokesman of  U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

    This date has also been confirmed on a government website.

    This will start the 2-year countdown to Britain leaving the European Union.

    The spokesman also said there are no current plans for an early general election.

    Mrs May will make a Commons statement on the same day.
    by david.reid edited by Spriha Srivastava 3/20/2017 11:39:14 AM
    Comment ()
  • All baked in the cake.

    Sterling has barely flinched following the Article 50  announcement which was always expected to come in the next few days.

    The pound has been higher against the dollar this morning, but that viewed as a "dollar sell" story.


    Comment ()
  • As we drift to the end of the morning session for European trading, the major markets look like this.

    A slightly bearish atmosphere as traders react to the G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers over the weekend.

    Little else has grabbed the attention of markets this morning, although the announcement of a date (March 29) for triggering Article 50 will have news teams firing up the satellite trucks.


    Comment ()
  • The European Commission is ready to begin Brexit negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, a spokesman said on Monday after the British government confirmed it would launch the process on March 29.
     
    Everything is ready on this side, Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesman for the EU executive, told a regular news briefing. He noted that negotiations would begin once other EU states had met to confirm the Commission's negotiating mandate.
    Comment ()
  • Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell:
     
    Walt Disney – Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" set a March opening weekend record with $170 million in North American ticket sales.
     
    IBM – IBM introduced a new service that lets companies build applications in IBM's cloud using blockchain code.
     
    Shake Shack – The restaurant chain's stock was upgraded to "neutral" from "underperform" at Wedbush, which gave valuation and lowered expectations as the primary reasons for its move.
     
    Tiffany – The luxury goods retailer was upgraded to "outperform" from "neutral" at William Blair. The report said Tiffany's business has become more stable and that the stock may benefit from easier comparisons.
     
    Intel – The chipmaker has debuted products based on its newest memory technology, which closes the gap between conventional and flash memory.
     
    Apple – Apple is still rated "outperform" at Cowen, but the firm raised its price target to $155 per share from $135, saying current consensus estimates for Apple remain far too low.
     
    Click here to read the full list.
    Comment ()
  • EU's Tusk says will present EU 27 with draft Brexit negotiating guidelines within 48 hours from UK trigger.
    Comment ()
  • U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open as traders eye speeches from Federal Reserve officials and digest comments on global trade.
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Sterling has turned negative after the UK government announced its plans to trigger Article 50 on March 29. The currency is now trading slightly lower against the dollar:
     
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Germany's Merkel says Nazi comparison by Turkish leaders must stop. Merkel says German yand Japan support quick conclusion of EU-Japan free trade agreement.
    Comment ()
  • Japan's Abe says Japan and EU must fly flag for free trade, also in cooperation with U.S. Abe says urges North Korea to stop nuclear programme. 
    Comment ()
  • Fed's Evans tells Fox TV in an interview that the U.S. economy is on a good course right now. He says three rate hikes this year entirely possible and could be more or fewer depending on outlook. 
    Comment ()
  • Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari says his vote against rate hike is based on lack of inflation. He says Fed balance sheet is a point of active discussion. 
    Comment ()
  • Fed's Kashkari says his vote against rate hike is based on lack of inflation

    CNBCMinneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday.
    Comment ()
  • Oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Monday as investors made record cuts to bets on rising prices after strong drilling data from the United States fed concerns about the effectiveness of OPEC-led production cuts to curb a supply glut.
     
     
    Comment ()
  • Oil falls 1 percent as bullish bets fade with US output rise

    CNBCOil prices fell as investors made record cuts to bets on rising prices after US drilling data fed concerns about the effectiveness of OPEC-led production cuts.
    Comment ()
  • Shares in Deutsche Bank hit day's low, now down 4.5 percent, second biggest Stoxx fallers:
     
     
    Comment ()
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel says March 29 date for Britain's announcement of withdrawal from EU makes no difference to position of EU27. That's according to Reuters.
    Comment ()
  • Commenting on the announcement that Article 50 will be triggered on March 29th, Michael Stanes, Investment Director at Heartwood Investment Management, said:
     
    The hard work now begins for the UK as it starts negotiations to exit the European Union. Triggering Article 50 no doubt marks a period of ongoing uncertainty for UK business and markets, but perhaps there is also some relief that the process is finally underway. While Brexit dominates UK concerns, French and German politicians will probably be more focused on their own national elections, which will further test anti-establishment sentiment. We continue to remain cautious on UK assets and expect higher inflation to weigh on real income growth this year.
    Comment ()
  • Equity market investors are primed to be sorely disappointed as stock prices have now raced far ahead of realities, warned an investment strategist on Monday.
    We think there's big disappointment on the way for these markets, cautioned Ian Harnett, co-founder and chief investment strategist at Absolute Strategy Research, noting that companies have already factored in an assumption that the tax cuts proposed by President Donald Trump will be enacted as soon as this year.
     
    Speaking on CNBC's Street Signs, Harnett also warned that rising protectionism could have negative ramifications for global corporates.
     
    These companies have become fine-tuned to the new global environment they had. They were accessing the lowest cost of production, they were accessing the lowest cost of capital, they were accessing the lowest cost of finance, wherever they could find it globally. As you go to protectionism that is just going to raise prices and squeeze profits, he explained.
    Click here to read the full story. 
    Comment ()
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