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Trader Talk: An Analysis of the Markets

Good morning,

Markets are trading higher in Asia and Europe after Chinese exports and Japanese economic growth beat estimates. Japan’s economy, Asia’s second-largest, expanded an annualized 6.7% in the first quarter, faster than the preliminary reading of 5.9% and the median economist forecast of 5.6%. Chinese exports beat projections, rising 7% last month from a year earlier.

Ukraine’s new leader, Petro Poroshenko, said the violence that’s rocked the former Soviet republic’s easternmost regions must end this week as peace talks began involving an envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Poroshenko, who took the oath of office June 7, said negotiations should be held on a daily basis. Yesterday’s three-way talks in Kiev included Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Pavlo Klimkin, Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and Heidi Tagliavini, a special representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The International Monetary Fund underestimated the strength of the U.K. economy when warning against the government’s austerity program, Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. A year after the IMF’s chief economist, Oliver Blanchard, said U.K. budget cutting risked “playing with fire,” the Washington-based lender said in April the U.K. economy will grow 2.9 percent this year, the fastest pace among the Group of Seven nations.

In corporate news TSB Bank Plc, the British consumer-lending unit being divested by Lloyds Banking Group Plc, will sell shares in its initial public offering in a range between 220 pence and 290 pence apiece. Final pricing will be announced on June 20, and about 125 million shares will be sold, Lloyds said in a statement today. If the IPO is priced at the middle of that range, TSB will be valued at about 1.28 billion pounds ($2.15 billion), the bank said. Lloyds, based in London, must sell TSB to meet European Union demands after it took state aid during the financial crisis. The lender, 25 percent owned by the British taxpayer, has until the end of 2015 to dispose of TSB. It said it will sell about 25 percent of the consumer bank in the IPO.

Hyundai Group, the South Korean conglomerate planning to raise 3.3 trillion won ($3.2 billion) from asset sales to ease a cash crunch, is in talks to sell a stake in its logistics unit to Orix Corp. in Japan. The details, price and how the stake will be sold are under discussion, group spokesman Lee Jun Ki said by phone today. Hyundai Group, one of South Korea’s so-called chaebols, will sell part of its stake in Hyundai Logistics for 650 billion won to a special-purpose company that will be formed by Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. and Orix.

Now it’s Sony versus Facebook. After being knocked around by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. for more than a decade, Sony Corp. is up against yet another tech rival, attempting to build the PlayStation 4 into an entertainment powerhouse and develop a virtual-reality headset for the gaming market. And in this fight at least, the Tokyo-based conglomerate, which has lost money in five of the last six years, might have an edge. Sony’s commanding lead in sales of video-game consoles could give a boost to the Project Morpheus headset the company will show off today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The chief competition is Oculus VR Inc., the virtual-reality goggle pioneer being acquired by Facebook Inc.

Good day and happy trading!

Kristian Camenzuli

The Calamatta Cuschieri Traders Blog is available daily on CC WebTrader. Other market coverage including coverage of the International Bond Markets is also available.

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