What to watch for today
Job creation in the US… Fingers are crossed for the best payrolls report in five months, with most analysts expecting that 210,000 new jobs were added during April. Here are the six charts to review ahead of the big jobs report.
… but not in the euro zone. Unemployment is forecast to hold steady at 11.9%, putting more pressure on the European Central Bank to intervene with an economic stimulus.
Chevron profits slide. The energy company has warned that adverse weather will hurt oil and gas production levels, and earnings are expected to fall 19% from last year. Investors will be looking to see whether Chevron can outpace its rival ExxonMobil, which reported lower profits on Thursday.
Russia, the EU, and Ukraine chat about gas. Officials will discuss the region’s precarious energy situation (paywall)— Moscow has threatened to cut off the gas supply to its neighbor, after Kiev refused a steep price hike.
While you were sleeping
Pfizer sweetened its offer for AstraZeneca. The pharma giant increased its £60 billion ($101.4 billion) bid for the Anglo-Swiss drug company (paywall), according to the Wall Street Journal, after AstraZeneca rejected the original cash-and-stock proposal of £46.61 per share.
Japanese household spending hit a 39-year high in March. But the momentum probably won’t last: consumers were rushing to beat an impending April sales tax hike, setting the stage for a sharp fall-off as it kicks in.
Ford tapped an unsurprising new CEO. Mark Fields, currently the company’s chief operating officer, will take the wheel on July 1, replacing Alan Mulally. The business is performing well right now but, in the auto industry, a crisis is never too far away.
LinkedIn reported slowing growth in sales. The professional social networking site swung to a loss of $13.4 million. Sales rose 46%, the lowest rate since LinkedIn went public in 2011.
Macquarie Group posted a bumper profit. Australia’s largest investment bank reported a 49% rise in full-year net income on the back of rising earnings from trading and fund management. Profit for the year ending March 31 was A$1.27 billion, ($1.17 billion), beating the firm’s own forecast of a 45% gain.
US banks have been easing credit restrictions. Mortgage credit standards were the loosest in two years in March as banks tried to find a middle ground between pre-2008 lending excess and post-2008 tightening. Nearly 16% of mortgages in March went to homeowners with debt obligations exceeding 43% of their pay—up from 13.4% in mid-2012.
Quartz obsession interlude
Mark DeCambre on the Swiss commodities giants snapping up chunks of US energy. “Secretive commodities investors like Vitol Group, Trafigura Beheer BV and Mercuria Energy Group are among the firms amassing physical assets like shale oil wells, oil and gas pipelines and offshore drilling projects in the US, Bloomberg reports. Why? The controversial fracking boom, which has driven US energy production sharply higher in recent years. Commodities firms want to get a piece of that production. They also see opportunities for arbitrage—that is profiting from price discrepancies—in the sometimes inefficient US oil and gas transport system.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Be wary of Africa’s debt expansion. The growth story of frontier markets is attractive, but that doesn’t eliminate instability and potential turbulence (paywall.)
Don’t hold your breath in the search for ET. Astronomers are misguided in looking for signs of extraterrestrial life on an Earth-like planet.
The pet food industry is not sustainable. Dogs and cats are ravenous consumers of dwindling natural resources.
Seattle is about to implement the world’s highest minimum wage. The $15 per hour rate will top Luxembourg’s $13.35 on a purchasing power basis.
Chinese censors neutered Game of Thrones. Stripped of much of its fighting and nudity for state television, HBO’s show now resembles a “medieval European castle documentary.”
There’s now a clothing line for surfing the web. It includes white track suits and bed linens.
Nobody’s really checking your passport. An Interpol database could detect stolen passports—if only anyone were to use it.
Train surfing is taking off in South Africa. Youngsters are performing deadly stunts to alleviate boredom.