Good morning

The headlines:
  1. Nomura Holdings, Japan’s largest brokerage, is expected to announce an increase in quarterly earnings. This is in spite of declines in investment banking – which initially surprised me, because brokerage houses don’t usually double as investment bankers. But then I recalled (via Bloomberg, Google and Wikipedia) that Nomura purchased Lehman Brothers’ investment banking and equities units in Asia and Europe after Lehman’s infamous exit from Wall Street. Anyway, the increase in earnings is interesting because Nomura is beating the US banks (who can’t all report increases in quarterly earnings), and because a month ago, Moody’s downrated the company to the lowest investment grade rating. Link: Nomura said to post quarterly gain.
  2. Chancellor Merkel has reaffirmed her position that balanced budgets are her best answer to the debt crisis. This seems to be in response to French Presidential front-runner and socialist Francois Hollande’s opposition to austerity. And his statement yesterday about the ECB and what it ought be doing to stimulate growth. Merkel’s home-grown logic of “you can’t spend more than you take in – you just can’t” sounds reasonable; unless, of course, you’re the druggie nephew in a rich family – in which case, you just do what you like. And that’s still the trouble, isn’t it? The weaker states are learning to be reliant, not self-reliant. So austerity is Big Momma’s way of teaching the kiddies to shape up or ship out; which works so long as the children are convinced that they need Mom more than Mom needs them. But eventually, those rebellious thoughts creep in – and then Mother’s life gets real difficult real fast. Link: Merkel tells Hollande to calm down.
  3. Apple news:
    • Apple has been found to have violated a patent. Something about Motorola and 3G technology. The real question is: what does it all mean? In theory, it could lead to the US banning the import of the affected devices (iPhones and iPads). However, this was only one judge’s ruling. The decision now needs to be reviewed by a 6 person panel, who will decide on a punishment. And if they decide on an imports ban, then it goes to an appeals court that deals in patents, and then to President Obama. Politics and big business. You know, we all talk about Big Oil and Big Pharma and Big Banks. I’d like to hear what they call the Big Internet Start-ups/Technology people (like Apple and Google). You’ll know they’re big when your average americans start suing them for causing cancer, and Julia Roberts stars in a movie about it. Link: Motorola wins partial ruling.
    • Apple’s quarterly profits have almost doubled. As a result of awesome iPhone sales and the new iPad. Win. Link: Apple’s profit up by 94%.
  4. Facebook news:
    • Facebook’s quarterly profits have dropped by 12%. It’s blaming slow sales growth and rising costs of marketing. Not what you want ahead of an IPO. Link: Facebook fail: unlike.
  5. Mitt Romney has declared himself the winner in the US Republican Nominee race. Now that the Santorum vitriol has stopped, Obama can prepare himself for a steady commentary on failed economic policies. Link: First Rick, Now (Ba)Rack.
  6. Cattle Futures are falling on the back of news that mad cow disease has been found in a Californian cow. Investors panic at this type of news. The cow that brought the meat industry to its knees… Madness. Link: California has a Mad Cow.
  7. Anglo America has announced its agreement to sell Scaw South Africa (Pty) Ltd (a steelmaker) for $430 million. Link: Anglo sells Scaw.
  8. And the African Business News in brief. Link: ABN Briefs. The highlights:
    • The SARB’s monthly economic sentiment indicator has increased in February. The South Africans are statistically experiencing more economic sentiment.
    • Royal Dutch Shell has announced plans to buy Cove for 1.1 billion pounds. This would give Shell hydrocarbon operations in Kenya and Mozambique.
    • Mozambique is set to buy 6 million gigajoules of gas from Sasol. And they’re going to build a pipeline to transport it. “6 million gigajoules”? It sounds giant.
That’s all for now.
Have a good day.