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US Index Futures Little Changed, While Asian Shares Climbed

 European Stocks erased their advance as carmakers and utilities fell, offsetting gains by personal and household goods companies after LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA reported its results. U.S. index futures were also little changed, while Asian shares climbed.

LVMH added 3.6 percent as the world’s largest luxury-goods company posted the fastest growth in fashion and leather-goods sales in two years. Tryg A/S lost 3.9 percent after reporting first-quarter net income that missed analysts’ estimates.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.1 percent to 334.87 at 10:04 a.m. in London, erasing a gain of as much as 0.6 percent. The benchmark has fallen 1.3 percent from a six-year high on April 4 as investors sold technology stocks and the shares with the highest valuations. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures also slipped 0.1 percent today. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.6 percent.

The Federal Reserve played down predictions by some of its policy makers that interest rates might rise faster than they previously forecast, according to minutes of the central bank’s March 18-19 policy meeting released after European markets closed yesterday.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference following last month’s meeting that rates might start to rise about six months after the central bank halts its monthly asset purchases.



US Stock Index Futures and Asian Shares Fell

European Stocks declined from a six-year high as technology shares tumbled following a selloff in America. U.S. stock-index futures and Asian shares fell.

Technology shares lost 1.2 percent, with Iliad SA losing 5.3 percent and Nokia Oyj sliding 2.4 percent. Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA advanced more than 4 percent each after agreeing to merge, creating the world’s biggest cement company with more than $40 billion in sales. Altice SA jumped 9.5 percent, while Bouygues SA slumped 6.1 percent after Vivendi SA (VIV) agreed to sell its phone unit SFR to Altice in a deal valued at more than 17 billion euros ($23.3 billion).

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.8 percent to 336.63 at 8:18 a.m. in London. The benchmark gauge rose for a ninth day on April 4, the longest streak since October, amid merger and acquisition activity and as U.S. payrolls and manufacturing data increased optimism that the world’s largest economy is strengthening. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures slipped 0.3 percent, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.5 percent.

In Germany, a report showed that industrial production rose 0.4 percent in February after a revised 0.7 percent gain the previous month. The February increase compares with a 0.3 percent gain economists had forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.


Payrolls in US Rose In March

Companies led the U.S. job market past a milestone in March as private employment exceeded its pre-recession peak for the first time, progress that will allow the Federal Reserve to stick to its policy course.

Payrolls excluding government agencies rose 192,000 after a 188,000 gain in February that was larger than first estimated, the Labor Department reported yesterday in Washington. That brought the job count to 116.1 million, beating the January 2008 high of 116 million. The jobless rate held at 6.7 percent even as half a million Americans entered the workforce.

Retailers, builders and health-care providers were among the industries hiring as the economy shook off the effects of harsh winter weather that curbed growth at the start of the year. The data mean Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues will probably keep trimming bond purchases while refraining from raising interest rates in the near term.

“As the speed of improvement in the labor market continues, all the things she’s looking at are going to get better,” said Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York. “Economic conditions continue to improve.”

The Labor Department report showed 503,000 people entered the workforce in March and almost as many found jobs. The participation rate — the share of working-age people with a job or looking for one — increased to 63.2 percent from 63 percent a month earlier.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 90 economists projected a 200,000 advance in payrolls. Forecasts ranged from increases of 150,000 to 275,000 after a previously reported 175,000 February gain. On average, the U.S. added 194,000 jobs a month in 2013 and 186,000 in 2012.

The number of people employed as a share of the working-age population grew to 58.9 percent, the highest since August 2009.

US Too Far Gone Says CEO as Australia Model Curbs Speed

In Australia, where high-frequency trading firms are half as pervasive as in the U.S., the head of the biggest stock exchange has a message for Americans who would rein them in: forget it.

“The way the U.S. market structure has been set up creates serious problems,” Elmer Funke Kupper, the chief executive officer of Sydney-based ASX Ltd., told Bloomberg News on the sidelines of a conference March 24. Efforts to rectify that are “very late and unlikely to succeed,” he said.

Advantages that are hard to replicate in the U.S. help Funke Kupper curb speed traders. Australia restricts alternative exchanges, solidifying ASX’s near-monopoly and reducing high-frequency arbitrage. By contrast, American trading is spread across more than 50 venues. ASX doesn’t offer payments to traders for orders, unlike in the U.S., where a system of fees and rebates known as maker-taker helps keep HFT in business.

“Australia has been increasing the vigilance in HFT regulations especially in regards to transparency, but they had the advantage of learning lessons from challenges the U.S. has already experienced,” Danielle Tierney, Boston-based analyst at Aite Group LLC, said in a phone interview yesterday. “They also have much smaller volume, and far fewer complications in their market structure than the U.S. does.”

Investors Await US Jobs Data as European Stocks Advance

European Stocks advanced, posting their longest winning streak since October, before a report that may show the U.S. economy created jobs at a faster pace last month. U.S. index futures and Asian shares were little changed.

Mediaset SpA advanced 2.4 percent as the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime MinisterSilvio Berlusconi started selling a 25 percent stake in its Ei Towers SpA (EIT) subsidiary. EasyJet Plc (EZJ) rose 1.1 percent after the low-cost airline said more passengers took its flights last month.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent to 337.8 at 8:49 a.m. in London, its ninth day of gains. The benchmark has climbed 4.1 percent since March 24 as improving U.S. economic data signaled that the world’s largest economy is recovering from the harsh winter. It has advanced 1.2 percent this week. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent today, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.1 percent.

“There is a consensus that after the harsh winter in the U.S. that data is going to get better and I agree with that,” said Raimund Saxinger, a fund manager at Frankfurt-Trust Investment GmbH, which overseas about $22 billion. “I think we are going to see a significant improvement in the U.S. data.”

The Labor Department report at 8:30 a.m in Washington will probably show that U.S. employers hired a net 200,000 people in March, according to the median of economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. created 175,000 jobs in February.

In Bribe Scheme US Charged Ukrainian Billionaire

Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian businessman who amassed his fortune in Russia’s gas trade, was indicted on U.S. bribery charges tied to a $500 million Indian mining project in a case he says is politically motivated.

Firtash, 48, allegedly conspired with five other men and met with Indian government officials as part of an effort to pay $18.5 million in bribes to facilitate the project, aimed at generating titanium product sales to firms including an Illinois-based company that wasn’t identified in the indictment.

“Firtash was the leader of the enterprise,”Chicago U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said yesterday in a statement.

The businessman, who is fighting extradition from Austria, may possess information about deals involving Russian state gas exporter OAO Gazprom (OGZD) that the U.S. would consider corrupt, according to Mikhail Korchemkin, a former analyst for the Soviet Union’s Gas Ministry and founder of Malvern, Pennsylvania-based East European Gas Analysis.

That information might help U.S. lawmakers develop harsher sanctions against the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Korchemkin said. U.S. prosecutors said the arrest isn’t related to the Ukraine crisis.

Over Fatal 2010 Pipeline Explosion PG and E Charged by US

PG&E Corp ( PCG), owner of California’s largest utility, was charged with 12 pipeline safety violations by the U.S. government for a 2010 natural gas explosion that killed eight people and left a crater the size of a house.

PG&E was charged in a grand jury indictment filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco with knowingly and willfully violating the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act by failing to test and assess unstable pipelines to determine whether they could fail. The company was also charged with keeping incomplete and inaccurate records about the pipeline that exploded.

The indictment underscores increased scrutiny on pipeline and utility companies over the safety risks of aging pipes running beneath U.S. cities. Federal investigators are studying whether a leaking gas main operated by Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) contributed to an explosion in New York City last month that also claimed eight lives.

The charges come 3 1/2 years after the explosion in San Bruno, a city with 42,000 residents about 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) south of San Francisco. A natural gas pipeline that was at least 54 years old, 30 inches (76.2 centimeters) in diameter and located under a street intersection in a residential area, exploded just after 6 p.m. on Sept. 9, 2010. It sent a 28-foot section of pipe weighing 3,000 pounds flying through the air, fueled by blowing natural gas, according to a state report

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