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Pre-Market Primer: Time Running Out for Cyprus

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Cypriot Finance Minister Michalis Sarris came back from Moscow empty handed.

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As of this morning, Cyprus still lacks a viable solution to keep itself solvent after Monday. Finance Minister Michalis Sarris returned from Moscow without having secured assistance from the Russians. The International Monetary Fund and European lenders rejected Cyprus' 'Plan B,' which would have avoided a chaotic bank deposit levy. Cyprus suggested nationalizing state-owned pension funds to shore up funds for the rescue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also quoted saying that such a deal would be unacceptable. Reuters reported that Merkel said that Cyprus must realize that its "business model" of catering to Russian tax-dodging millionaires is "dead."

As of this morning, the Cypriot Parliament still hasn't taken a vote. Local media rumors are that it might tax deposits over 100,000 euros by 15%. With just days before the European Central Bank stops supplying emergency liquidity, today's vote might be the last chance for the country to avoid a messy default.

American shares are in positive territory ahead of the opening bell today. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.29% at 14,389. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.28% to 1,543.40 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.28% to 2,777.50.

The business in Cyprus shook German confidence, according to the Ifo institute. German business confidence dropped this month to 106.7 from 107.4 in February, missing expectations.

British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) said that it will buy back $8 billion in shares. The company just finished selling a 50% stake in TNK-BP (MCX:TNBP) to Russia's Rosneft (PINK:RNFTF).

Today is the deadline for bids to take Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) private. Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm bid $24.4 billion, but Blackstone (NYSE:BX), together with General Electric's (NYSE:GE) financial arm might also make a joint offer.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) shares advanced 8.17% after reporting that gross margins widened for the first time in over two years. For the company's first fiscal quarter, it earned $0.73 per share, beating estimates as revenue rose 9% to $6.2 billion and net profit rose 55% to $866 million.

The BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Z10 smartphone goes on sale in the United States today.

Disclosure: Minyanville has a business relationship with BlackBerry.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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