Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, March 14:

 

 

1. British Parliament Votes on Delaying Brexit

British lawmakers rejected the prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal in place on March 29, paving the way for another vote later in the day that could delay Brexit until at least the end of June.

The vote is set to take place at around 1:00PM ET (17:00 GMT).

British finance minister Philip Hammond said Brussels might insist on a long delay to Brexit if the U.K. government requests an extension to the process.

May said on Wednesday lawmakers would need to agree a way forward before an extension could be obtained. An extension would need to be agreed unanimously with all other 27 EU member states, some of which have already said they don't want one.

The pound was down 0.4% at $1.3275 by 5:40AM ET (09:40 GMT), after rallying to a nine-month high of $1.3380 on Wednesday.

 

2. China Industrial Output Slows to 17-Year Low

Growth in China's industrial output fell to a 17-year low in the first two months of the year, pointing to further weakness in the world's second-biggest economy.

Pressured by weak demand at home and abroad, China's industrial output rose 5.3% in January-February, less than expected and the slowest pace since early 2002.

The downbeat data is likely to trigger more support measures from Beijing, which has been ramping up assistance in an effort to stabilize the economy.

 

3. Facebook Under Criminal Investigation

U.S. federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world's largest technology companies, the New York Times reported.

A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the requests and without naming the companies.

Facebook has defended the data-sharing deals, first reported in December, saying none of the partnerships gave companies access to information without people's permission.

On an unrelated note, Facebook's app still seemed to be down for some users across the globe in one of the longest outages faced by the company in the recent past.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares were down 1.6% in premarket trade to $170.65.

 

4. U.S. Futures Inch Up

U.S. stock index futures inched up ahead of another fresh round of economic data.

Weekly jobless claims and import prices for February will be released at 8:30AM ET (12:30 GMT). New home sales for January is set to follow at 10AM ET (14:00 GMT).

In earnings, Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO), and Dollar General (NYSE:DG) are among the companies due to report their latest quarterly results.

The blue-chip Dow futures were up 32 points, or about 0.1%, the S&P 500 futures rose 3 points, or around 0.1%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 14 points, or roughly 0.2%.

The moves in premarket come after U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday. Even Boeing (NYSE:BA) edged upward after the U.S. joined other nations in grounding the company's 737 MAX jets.

Elsewhere, European shares hit a five-month high in morning trading, with most sectors in positive territory. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.3%.

Earlier, markets in Asia stumbled. Shares in mainland China led the retreat with a fall of almost 2% after the weak industrial production data.

 

5. Oil Prices Reach 4-Month Highs

In commodity markets, oil held gains after breaching $58 a barrel for the first time this year as falling U.S. crude and fuel inventories boosted optimism that a global surplus is shrinking.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 23 cents, or around 0.4%, at $58.49 a barrel, the highest level since November 2018.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $67.81 per barrel, up 26 cents, or roughly 0.4%.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will publish its monthly assessment of oil markets later in the day, shedding further light on global supply and demand trends.

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