Growth and credit data released today in China brought mixed news. First-quarter headline gross domestic product registered an annualized 6.7 percent growth, in line with both consensus forecasts and Beijings guidance and a sign that Chinas economy has stabilized. Separately, credit data from the Peoples Bank of China for March was much stronger than forecast, with new loans rising sharply. The continued credit expansion coupled with strength in the fixed-investment segment of GDP raises concerns that the ongoing rebound is being heavily fueled by debt and central-bank liquidity measures. The question facing investors is whether the current pace of growth is sustainable without these massive credit flows.
Oil prices slide before Doha summit. Financial markets appear uncertain that a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia this weekend in Qatar will successfully implement production controls to support oil prices. In New York on Friday, West Texas Intermediate-grade futures contracts for delivery in May fell below $41 per barrel in early trading while Brent-grade contracts retreated in London.
Brazils top court clears path to impeachment. An effort by the administration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to to block impeachment proceedings failed on Thursday after the Supreme Court ruled that the vote could be held. Impeachment proceedings will commence during a session of the lower house of Congress on Sunday and, if a sufficient number of lawmakers vote in favor of removing Rousseff, the legal process will then move to the Senate.
Bats IPO prices at high end of range. On Friday, Bats Global Markets will begin trading as a public company after pricing at $19 per share on Thursday, the high end of the range projected by underwriters. The Kansas City, Missouri exchange operator suffered a setback in 2012 when a software failure on the firms own platform forced it to scuttle its first attempt at going public.
Citi beats estimates. First-quarter results issued today by Citigroup included profits that were higher than consensus analyst estimates at $1.10 per share versus $1.51 for the same period a year earlier. Returns were driven in part by a drop in operating costs, which fell to $10.5 billion after streamlining and headcount reduction measures instituted by CEO Mike Corbat. First-quarter trading revenues for both equities and fixed income contracted for the fourth consecutive year to less than $4 billion.