Theresa May has called a snap general election in the U.K., with the vote to be held on June 8. With a 19 point lead in polls over her nearest rivals, it seems to be an opportunity for her Conservative party to gain a sizeable majority as Brexit negotiations get underway. Sterling had a sharp fall ahead of the announcement, but has now pared losses. The FTSE 100 is down 1.6% to 7,210.
The race for the French presidential election is still tight. The latest Ifop poll puts the gap between the top four candidates at just 4 points: 23% to 19%. Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon and Jean-Luc Melenchon remain the top four candidates ahead of first-round voting on April 23.
While international monitors have criticized the referendum, President Trump has become the first western leader to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdogan over victory in Sunday's vote, which will grant him sweeping new powers. There were volatile moves in the Turkish lira in the buildup to the referendum, but the currency is down against the dollar following the result.
Switzerland is not manipulating its currency, Jorg Gasser, the country's state secretary for international financial matters, told CNBC. "It's not so much about a strong Swiss franc. It's rather about a very weak euro." he said. Switzerland was recently listed on the "monitoring list" in the U.S. Treasury's semi-annual currency report of potential foreign-exchange manipulators.
Ahead of meetings with finance ministers and central bankers in Washington this week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is warning a summer tax reform is "not realistic at this point," attributing the delay to setbacks in healthcare. Speaking to the FT, he added that should the planned "border adjustment tax" not survive there would be other ways of making up the $1T budget shortfall.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer doesn't see a replay of the so-called taper tantrum of 2013 as the central bank rolls out its plan for reducing its $4.5T balance sheet. Yields on Treasury securities shot higher at the time after then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank might eventually scale back, or taper, its asset purchases.
President Trump will head to Kenosha, Wisconsin, today to sign an order dubbed "Buy American, Hire American" at the headquarters of the Snap-on (NYSE:SNA) tool company. It will direct federal agencies to recommend changes in the H-1B visa program and examine their purchasing systems to more effectively favor buying American goods.
Top White House advisers will also meet over whether to recommend President Trump withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, along with SecState Tillerson, have urged the President to stay in the deal, while Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B), BP and Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT:LNG) have also endorsed the pact.
Continuing his four-nation tour in the Asia-Pacific region, VP Mike Pence emphasized that all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea and the U.S. was with the Japanese people "100 percent." He also announced a free trade deal may be worked out between the two countries in the future, but outlined that the current South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement needed to be reviewed and reformed.
Netflix's U.S. and international subscriber growth slowed in the first quarter, coming in below expectations, though profit grew as content costs were lower than anticipated. The company reported 98.75M total subscribers, up from 81.5M a year ago. NFLX shares dropped as much as 3% in AH trading before rebounding to gain 1.3%, after the company said it expects to top 100M global subscribers this weekend.
Mark Zuckerberg will give a keynote address this morning at Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) annual F8 developer conference, where he's expected to discuss augmented reality, a more powerful Messenger, and tackling fake news and violent videos. It comes as Facebook launches a review on how to handle objectionable content after a murder clip of a Cleveland man remained on its site for about three hours on Sunday.
In an update to a review of strategic alternatives, Fidelity & Guaranty Life (NYSE:FGL) said it has terminated its merger deal with Anbang Insurance Group. "We have determined that it is no longer in the best interests of FGL's shareholders," CEO Chris Littlefield declared. The company will continue to explore and negotiate with other parties.
Broad consequences for the policing of Wall Street? The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a case that has the potential to scale back the SEC's ability to recover illegal profits earned as a result of fraud or other wrongdoing. The agency already faces a five-year statute of limitations for collecting civil monetary penalties, a time bar upheld in the 2013 Gabelli v. SEC ruling.
It has taken nearly a decade, but the British government is now poised to return Lloyds (NYSE:LYG) to the private sector at a profit, the FT reports. With a remaining stake of less than 2% and some £20B now returned to taxpayers, the U.K. Treasury is expected to imminently recoup the remaining £300M spent on salvaging the lender during the global financial crisis.
Mounting shareholder pressure has resulted in the CEO of Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) and its board of directors taking a voluntary 40% cut in their performance pay. That leaves Tidjane Thiam with 2016 compensation of 10.24M Swiss francs, down from 11.9M. The remaining 3M franc reduction will come from his planned long-term payments for 2017.
Bright Foods has agreed to sell Weetabix to America's third largest cereal company, Post Holdings (NYSE:POST), for $1.76B, according to a spokesman for the Chinese conglomerate. Other groups competing to buy Weetabix had included AB Foods and Cereal Partners, a joint venture between Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY) and General Mills (NYSE:GIS). Italy's Barilla also expressed interest.
Resolving a year-long regulatory impasse, Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos (Private:THERA) have pledged to stay out of the blood-testing business for at least two years in exchange for reduced penalties from federal health authorities. That doesn't put Theranos completely in the clear. It still has to worry about criminal and civil investigations, as well as lawsuits from several investors.
Under control... A damaged BP oil and natural gas well that had been venting gas vapors on Alaska’s remote North Slope since Friday morning has been successfully killed. The total amount of oil spilled and whether the crude affected the snow-covered tundra nearby is not yet clear, but authorities believe the contamination has been contained.
A small hazardous material spill at Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) Gigafactory is being investigated by emergency workers after several employees were hospitalized per safety protocol. "There are no reports of serious injuries. We don't expect any impact to production," spokesman Dave Arnold told reporters. Tesla plans to start manufacturing Model 3 battery packs at the plant during the current quarter.
Another high-level executive has jumped ship from UBER. This time it's Sherif Marakby, vice president of global vehicle programs, who helped launch the company's crucial (and embattled) self-driving car program. He joined Uber in April 2016 after a 25-year career at Ford Motor (NYSE:F).
United Continental shares rose nearly 1% AH after the company exceeded earnings expectations. UAL CEO Oscar Munoz also called the dragging incident last week a "watershed" moment for the company. "We are dedicated to setting the standard for customer service among U.S. airlines," he declared.
In Asia, Japan +0.3%. Hong Kong -1.4%. China -0.8%. India -0.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London -1.6%. Paris -1.3%. Frankfurt -0.7%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.2%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude -0.7% to $52.26. Gold -0.3% to $1288.60.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -3 bps to 2.22%
Today's Economic Calendar
8:30 Housing Starts
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 Fed's George speech
9:15 Industrial Production