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September 17, 2014 05:47 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia

International stock markets were mostly higher today, buoyed by hopes that the Federal Reserve will not speed up plans to raise interest rates and reports that China is providing extra liquidity to major state banks. Futures point to a flat opening on Wall Street. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell to just above $94.50 a barrel. The dollar continues gains against the yen and slipped against the euro.

  • It's the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates that investors have been waiting for all week, but they will also have three economic reports of note to consider this morning. The Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index for August, while the Commerce Department releases the current account trade deficit for the second quarter. A little later this morning, the National Association of Home Builders releases its housing market index for September.
     
  • Sony expects its annual loss to swell to more than $2 billion after writing down the value of its troubled mobile business as phone sales were battered by brutal competition. The Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate says it anticipates a net loss of 230 billion yen ($2.15 billion) for the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2015. Its previous forecast was for a 50 billion yen ($466 million) net loss. Sony has been trying to reshape its business after years of red ink.
     
  • Control over Alibaba Group will stay in the hands of founder Jack Ma and other company veterans after the Chinese e-commerce giant goes public on the New York Stock Exchange in a record busting share sale. A group of 27 managers dubbed the "Alibaba Partnership" will have the power to nominate a majority of board members, a structure that was unpalatable to Hong Kong's stock market and resulted in Alibaba deciding to list in New York. Alibaba says the arrangement will preserve its innovative culture.
     
  • The inflation rate in August for the 18 countries using the euro has been revised up slightly. The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, says the eurozone's annual inflation rate was 0.4 percent, up from its initial estimate of 0.3 percent published late last month. The news is likely to provide a little relief as economists fear the bloc could slide into a downward spiral of falling prices that could dent economic growth.
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