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 report.
Chevron profits slide. The energy company has warned that adverse weather has 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 talk 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
Ukraine launched an assault on pro-Russian rebels. An attempt to retake control of the eastern town of Slovyansk led to two military helicopters being shot down. Ukraine’s interior minister said the rebels used anti-aircraft weaponry and that professional mercenaries were being employed. Moscow continues to deny it is involved in the uprising.
Euro-area manufacturing grew the fastest in three months… The Markit purchasing managers’ index increased to 53.4 in April, from 53 in March, marking the 10th consecutive month of expanded manufacturing activity.
…But unemployment barely budged. 18.91 million people were without jobs in March, or 11.8% of the population, roughly in line with the previous four months. Austria and Germany had only 5% unemployment, while Spain had a whopping 25%.
Pfizer’s sweetened deal got AstraZeneca’s attention. The two drug makers resumed talks after Pfizer upped its bid from £60 billion to £63.1 billion ($106.6 billion). It also promised to protect jobs and AstraZeneca’s plans for a scientific research hub in Cambridge.
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 decline as it kicks in.
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.
…And so did Royal Bank of Scotland. The bailed-out British lender reported a surprisingly robust first quarter profit, three times higher than last year’s. Its shares soared by 10% in early London trading.
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
California should resist the urge to become a “manny” state. Changing tables in mens’ restrooms are a convenience, but shouldn’t be a legally-mandated public necessity.
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.)
The pet food industry is not sustainable. Dogs and cats are ravenous consumers of dwindling natural resources.
Burger King sells a ”PooPoo smoothie” in China. The restaurant chain is the latest to fall prey to an Chinese-English translation failure—it’s actually mango flavored.
Rude salespeople increase consumers’ desire for luxury goods. Rejection by intimidating sales staff triggers an urge to gain acceptance.
Chinese censors neutered Game of Thrones. Stripped of much of its fighting and nudity for state television, the HBO drama 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 used it.