Good morning! Here's what you need to know.
Ukraine's Referendum. A referendum held Sunday in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk region appeared to end with citizens voting to separate from Ukraine. Russia said it recognized the votes as legitimate, while Ukraine, the European Union and much of the western world saw it as a farce.
What It Means For Everyone Else. The Ukraine economy is relatively small. However, the secondary effects of turmoil in the region could be severe. "The crisis in Ukraine is a danger which is very difficult to gauge (and) whose contagion risk for other countries can barely be predicted," said the IMF's Christine Lagardeon Monday. "All the same, it can have severe economic consequences."
Pfizer Fires Back. Drug behemoth Pfizer continues to be the target of harsh criticism following its proposed $106 billion takeover of UK drugmaker AstraZeneca. For the British, jobs remain a top concern. "Governments are all around the world pressurizing the industry to produce products of higher value and with more productivity, at lower cost," said Pfizer CEO Ian Read on Saturday. "So one way of doing that is to consolidate and is to take out overlapping functions."
"Rocky Time" For IBM. IBM CEO Virginia Rometty told the New York Times' Steve Lohr that the company is experiencing a "rocky time." "Ms. Rometty said she and the company now had a clear vision for how to pursue another generation of growth." wrote Lohr. "The company, she says, has jettisoned less profitable business and made major commitments in new fields — like technology to help customers find insights in today’s flood of digital data, and cloud-style computing in which processing and software is delivered remotely over the Internet. Cloud computing, she insists, can be converted to an opportunity for IBM."
Nasdaq Hires New Co-President. Carlyle Group CFO Adena Friedman will be joining Nasdaq OMX Group as Co-President. "She is now the "leading candidate" to take over as chief executive when [CEO Robert] Greifeld departs, according to a person familiar with the plans," reported the Wall Street Journal's Bradley Hope. "As part of the changes, Hans-Ole Jochumsen was named co-president with Ms. Friedman."
No Surprises In China's Credit Data. Seasonal factors caused new loans and outstanding total social financing balances to decline month-over-month in China, but the numbers were largely in line with economists' estimates. "We expect this set of data to have limited market impact," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Ting Lu. "This set of data is consistent with our view that the PBoC will continue fine-tuning its monetary policy though it sees no need for a major easing. The PBoC could keep ample liquidity, lower financing costs and support credit growth in select areas, such as in rural China, as part of the government's growth-supportive measures."
Another Mega Deal. Merger and acquisition activity remains high. earlier today, packaged food company Hillshire Brands announced it would acquire Pinnacle Foods for $6.6 billion.
Markets Are On The Rise. Stocks are rallying around the world. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up 1.8%. In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 is up 0.4%, France's CAC 40 is up 0.1%, Germany's DAX is up 0.9%, and Spain's IBEX is up 0.5%. US futures are pointing up with Dow futures up 58 point and S&P futures up 7 points.
Fed's Lockhart Speaks. "It may not be clear for several months, or even quarters, whether the U.S. economy is undeniably on a stronger and sustained growth path around a run rate of 3%," said Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart in Dubai this weekend. He also discussed some fo the Fed's alternative tools for managing interest rates. "I am confident reverse repos will be among our tool bag and will therefore may very well have a role in how we try to influence short-term interest rates."
Samsung's Chairman Undergoes Heart Procedure. Lee Kun-hee is recovering at the Samsung Medical Center after undergoing a cardiac procedure on Sunday. According to Reuters Narae Kim, he "was admitted to a hospital near his home late on Saturday night, suffering breathing difficulties, and received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for symptoms of cardiac arrest."
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