The Bank of Japan shocked financial markets overnight by adopting negative interest rates for the first time ever, in a desperate attempt to kick start the world's number three economy. A rate of -0.1% will now apply to excess reserves parked at the central bank, which said it would extend the policy "as long as necessary." The decision saw global shares jump, the yen fall, and sovereign bonds rally. (SA)
Oregon regulators yesterday forced tight new state controls on struggling Portland health insurer Moda Health Plans, citing the company's ongoing financial losses and depleted capital reserves. The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation put the company into "supervision," meaning all business decisions will have to cleared by state officials. Moda suffered a miserable fourth quarter of continuing losses and a shrinking capital base. (OregonLive)
Amazon’s full-year sales topped the $100bn mark for the first time in company history last year. However, net profits of $596m reported after the bell yesterday missed Wall Street estimates, as operating expenses rose nearly 18 per cent from the year prior. Shares were down sharply after hours. (FT)
Finally, Fourth quarter GDP numbers are out this morning, and economic growth underwhelmed. The economy grew at a .7% annualized pace in the 4th Quarter, as a strong dollar sapped exports, manufacturing sputtered, and consumer spending cooled. (FT)
Oil is up $.55 at $33.77 a barrel.
Gold is flat at $1116 a Troy ounce.