Daily Agenda: Markets Have April Fools’ Day Jitters

Goodluck Jonathan concedes the election in Nigeria; Proposed merger between two major U.S. mall operators collapses; Taiwan applies to join AIIB.


On April Fools’ Day, a holiday traditionally associated with pranks, global markets appear to be jittery with a sharp sell-off in evening trading for U.S. equity futures that quickly reversed itself. In Europe, despite the continuing agitation and exasperation of their European Union counterparts, Greek officials continue to claim that a deal is right around the corner. In a televised statement last night, Economy Minister George Stathakis indicated that a final deal would be reached by next week, despite the fact that the most recent round of proposals presented by his government was roundly rejected. With Greece rapidly depleting its capital reserves, the pressing need for a resolution is a primary risk narrative for all euro-denominated risk assets.

Nigerian election results released. Incumbent Goodluck Jonathan lost the Nigerian presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari, who briefly ruled the country as a dictator during the 1980s. This marks the first time that an incumbent president of Nigeria has conceded an election loss since democracy was introduced in 1998. Buhari was able to garner widespread support in the nation of 176 million in part because of concerns that the Jonathan administration had been unable to make gains against Boko Haram insurgents.

Taiwan to join AIIB. In the latest blow for U.S. President Barack Obama’s attempts to convince allies to abstain, Taiwan has applied to participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a charter member. Beijing, which officially does not recognize the island nation’s independence, has signaled a desire to have Taiwan participate, provided it use a name deemed suitable by mainland China.

Mall merger deal collapses. Indianapolis–headquartered Simon Property Group, the largest real estate investment trust in the U.S., announced that it has abandoned a $16.8 billion offer to acquire fellow mall operator, Santa Monica, California–based Macerich Co. after the target rejected the enhanced bid as being still too low. Macerich’s board had earlier taken steps to thwart a hostile takeover by the larger company.

U.K. manufacturing heats up. Final Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index levels for March rose to 54.4, better than consensus forecasts. Coming one day after the release of final fourth-quarter 2014 GDP that bested previous projections, these latest numbers are welcome news for the administration of Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the U.K.’s national election in early May.

PMI data in China improves. Official manufacturing PMI data released today by China’s National Bureau of Statistics rose to 50.1, compared to a contraction in February. Meanwhile, HSBC manufacturing PMI, which focuses on mid-sized companies, remained in negative territory with a reading of 49.6, which still represents an improvement over the flash reading earlier in the month.

U.S. economic data on deck. Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index levels and Energy Information Administration oil inventory data will be released in the U.S. today, as well as March motor vehicle sales. Car sales dipped in February reaching a multimonth low annual pace of just above 16 million. Consensus forecasts call for a modest rebound as harsh winter weather in parts of the nation subsided.