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Five Things You Need to Know for Tuesday


What you need to know (and what it means).


Five things you need to know to stay ahead of the pack on Wall Street.

1. One for us, and one billion for you.

China's trade surplus soared to $11.2 billion in March, the second highest on record.

  • The surplus widened from $2.43 billion in February and was double the $5.7 billion median estimate of 27 economists in a Bloomberg survey.
  • Exports jumped 28.3 percent from a year earlier to a record $78.1 billion, the fastest gain since last October.
  • Imports rose 21.1 percent to $66.9 billion.
  • The surplus for the first quarter rose to $23.2 billion, from $16.5 billion a year earlier.
  • In recent weeks U.S. lawmakers have ratcheted up verbal pressure on China to let its currency appreciate more rapidly.
  • Meanwhile, in a not-so-subtle rebuke to the U.S., EU finance ministers announced on April 9 they supported China's intention to gradually let the yuan appreciate.
  • China President Hu Jintao and U.S. President George W. Bush are to meet next week in Washington.
  • But let's go back to the trade surplus for a moment.
  • Why is it so grim? The U.S. says the artificially weak yuan is to blame. China's Commerce Minister Bo Xilai said the trade gap has been spurred by U.S. curbs on technology exports to China, and pointed out that almost 60 percent of the nation's $760 billion of exports last year were shipped by foreign-invested companies.

2. Pardon our schadenfreude, but your zweckoptimismus is showing.

Investor confidence in German slipped unexpectedly in April.

  • The ZEW Institute monthly survey of German investor sentiment, based on a survey of 316 analysts and institutions, fell to 62.7 from 3.4 in March.
  • The mid-range forecast in a Reuters poll of 51 economists last week was for the indicator to rise to 65.0.
  • This is the third consecutive month that sentiment of Germany's financial professionals has fallen, each time surprising economists who forecast rises in the survey.
  • It reached a high of 71 in January.
  • Its historical average is 35.3 percent.
  • In March 2003, the ZEW economic sentiment survey was at 17.7%.
  • Meanwhile, the German DAX Index is up more than 135% since March 2003.
  • What is the ZEW survey?
  • The questionnaire includes nine questions bearing on the current and expected overall economic situation, for the G-7 countries with the exception of Canada.

German Dax Index, Monthly

3. Beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick... oh, wait.

Bausch & Lomb (BOL) has agreed to stop shipping its ReNu MoistureLoc brand contact lens solution in the United States after some users were diagnosed with a serious eye infection.

  • The FDA said 109 preliminary reports of a rare fungal infection that may cause loss of vision had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 17 U.S. states.
  • The agency said it was not aware of a direct link between the Fusarium fungus and any specific product, but in 26 cases so far, patients used Bausch & Lomb's ReNu MoistureLoc solution.
  • Bausch & Lomb suspended sales of all ReNu solutions in Singapore and Hong Kong in February after reports of similar infections.
  • The company said last month it was delaying issuing its 2005 annual report amid internal accounting investigations.
  • ReNu MoistureLoc generated U.S. sales of approximately $45 million in 2005.

4. Wall Street Gets a Museum

The Museum of American Finance, the U.S.'s only public museum devoted to the nation's financial history, is moving to Wall Street.

  • The museum is presently in the basement of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Building at 28 Broadway.
  • It plans to move into Bank of New York's former headquarters early next year, at 48 Wall Street.
  • New York is home to more than 80 museums.
  • Among the 80 museums are "specialized" museums, such as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Museum of Sex and the NY Food Museum.
  • John Herzog, the museum's founder and chairman told Bloomberg he started the museum because he was frustrated by a lack of historical perspective in the news media's coverage of the stock market crash of 1987. No one seemed to be studying America's financial history anymore, he said.

Museum Quality Art!

5. The Godfather, Part 43

Sicilian Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano was arrested today in Siciliy after almost 43 years in hiding.

  • Mr Provenzano, 73, took over as head of the Sicilian mafia after the arrest in 1993 of then-boss Salvatore 'Toto' Riina.
  • He has been on the run since an arrest warrant was issued against him in 1963 over a murder allegation.
  • He evaded arrest all these years with what anti-mafia investigators said was help from Sicilian politicians, police and businessmen.
  • After his arrest, police experts confirmed Mr Provenzano's identity by means of a DNA test.
  • He was a native of Corleone – a town made famous in "The Godfather" films – and was sometimes dubbed "the tractor" because of his way of mowing down his opponents.

"Someday - and that day may never come - I'll call upon you to do a service for me."

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