Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, March 7:

 

 

1. All Eyes on ECB, Draghi

Faced with a serious slowdown in the euro zone, the European Central Bank is expected to slash its growth forecasts and give its strongest signal yet that fresh stimulus is coming in the form of more cheap loans.

The loans, known more formally as Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs), are expected to benefit Spanish and Italian lenders most, while aggravating the problems of excess liquidity for sounder banks in northern Europe that don't need the ECB's support as much.

The bank's decision is due at 7:45AM ET (12:45 GMT), while President Mario Draghi's press conference is scheduled for 8:30AM ET (13:30 GMT).

The euro was little changed at $1.1309 by 5:30AM ET (10:30 GMT), after going as low as $1.1284 the previous day, the weakest level since Feb. 19.

Read more: Will The ECB Crush The Euro?: Kathy Lien

 

2. Huawei Sues U.S. Government

Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies sued the U.S. government, saying a law limiting its U.S. business was unconstitutional.

Huawei said it had filed a complaint in a federal court in Texas challenging Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump in August, which bars federal agencies and their contractors from procuring its equipment and services.

The lawsuit marks the latest confrontation between the Chinese company and U.S. authorities and is likely to overshadow prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal.

 

3. Wall Street Set for Lower Open

U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open, as market players remain focused on U.S.-China relations.

The blue-chip Dow futures were down 78 points, or 0.3%, the S&P 500 futures dipped 6 points, or 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a decline of 17 points, or 0.25%.

Wall Street's major indexes fell for a third session on Wednesday, with the S&P 500posting its biggest one-day decline in a month.

Elsewhere, European stocks were lower across the board ahead of the ECB's meeting. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down about 0.4%, retreating further from five-month highs touched earlier in the week.

Earlier, markets in Asia closed mostly lower, as investors showed caution over the outlook for global growth. Japan's Nikkei fell almost 0.7%, while Chinese blue-chips snapped a four-day winning streak.

 

4. Kroger, Costco Highlight Last Big Day of Earnings Season

The fourth-quarter earnings season has all but wound down, but results are expected from a pair of retailers today.

Ahead of the open, Kroger (NYSE:KR), the supermarket giant, is expected to report 52 cents a share in earnings, according to analyst forecasts compiled by Investing.com, with revenue at $28.5 billion.

Kroger faces heated competition in the grocery space, not least from online rivals. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced plans to start a new brand of supermarkets in major U.S. cities last week.

After the bell, Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) is expected to report $1.69 per share in earnings. Revenue is projected at $35.66 billion, up 8.9% from a year ago.

 

5. Jobless Claims

On the data front, there will be weekly jobless claims figures and unit labor costs, both due at 8:30AM ET (13:30 GMT). Consumer credit numbers will then be released at 3PM ET (20:00 GMT).

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard is also due to speak.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was at 96.81, remaining within sight of Tuesday's two-week high of 96.95.

In the bond market, U.S. Treasury prices inched higher, pushing yields slightly lower across the curve, with the benchmark 10-year yield falling to 2.68%, its lowest in a week.

March 19, 2019
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