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Chinese manufacturing is expanding. HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI climbed to 50.1 from 49.7, outpacing the 49.6 that had been forecast. Wednesday's reading has the index back above the 50.0 line indicating expansion and at its best level in four months. China's yuan weakened by 0.1% to 6.2599 against the dollar; it is near its weakest levels since October 2012.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen faces her 2nd day of testimony on Capitol Hill. Yellen spent Tuesday's session in front of the Senate Banking Committee fending off questions about Fed policy and "Audit the Fed," and she is likely to hear more of the same Wednesday as she appears in front of the House Financial Services Committee.
Hewlett-Packard warned for 2015. The company announced it expected non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.84 to $0.88 per share, well below the $0.96 per share that analysts were looking for. As for the quarter, results were mixed. EPS of $0.92 per share topped the $0.91 per share that analysts expected, while revenues of $26.8 billion missed the forecast $27.2 billion.
Global stock markets are mostly lower. China's Shanghai Composite slid 0.6% as traders returned to work following the extended Lunar New Year holiday. Meanwhile, Australia's ASX outperformed, up 0.3%, on the heels of data that was better than expected. European markets are lower across the board, with Italy's MIB (down 0.7%) pacing the decline.
US economic data is light. Weekly MBA Mortgage Application fell 3.5%. New home sales are due out at 10 a.m. ET, and crude oil inventories will cross the wires at 10:30 a.m. ET. The Treasury will hold a $35 billion five-year note auction at 1 p.m. ET.
A judge has ordered Apple to pay $533 million for infringing patents. A jury ruled Apple's iTunes infringed on three of Smartflash's patents. Reuters reports: "The jury, which deliberated for eight hours, determined Apple had not only used Smartflash's patents without permission, but did so willfully." Apple will appeal the ruling.
JPMorgan will close 5% of it branches over the next two years. The announcement comes as part of a cost-cutting plan that aims to save the banking giant $1.4 billion.
China is looking into ways to combat its property slowdown. Bloomberg reports: "The government could reduce down-payment requirements for second-home purchases," or, "let homeowners sell properties without paying sales tax after two years, down from five years."
Britain's BBA Mortgage Approvals topped estimates. The number saw a reading of 36.4K, topping the 63.2K that was expected. The British pound is up 0.2% at 1.5490, nearing its best levels of the year.
Brazil's Petrobras was cut to 'junk' at Moody's. The scandal-plagued energy giant saw its credit rating lowered to "Ba2" from "Baa3." Moody's explained in a statement: "These rating actions reflect increasing concern about corruption investigations and liquidity pressures that might result from delays in delivering audited financial statements, as well as Moody's expectation that the company will be challenged to make meaningful reduction in its very high debt burden over the next several years."
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