The (early) Lunch Wrap

Good morning New York,

FT ALPHAVILLE

Zombie hordes thrive, await further hedge fund corpses: Dan notes that 904 hedge funds succumbed to the inevitable last year. Their historic performance may live on in the databases of hedge fund returns, but like more than two-thirds of all hedge funds that ever existed, they are now dead, defunct and arguing with investors over valuations and lingering illiquid assets.

SOE you think you can reform: David writes that the one thing we can say with certainty after the default of Chaori, China’s first onshore corporate bond default, is that China has become far less tolerant of Chaori.

NEWS

Inflation falls to lowest level in four years: The consumer price index rose 1.7 per cent in the year to February, down from 1.9 per cent in January with the rise in prices now outstripping the average rise in wages by only 0.3 percentage points. (Financial Times)

Funds cut Russian holdings after sanctions: Days after Washington imposed sanctions against an additional 20 Russian individuals and a top-20 Russian bank, investors are still reeling from the news and beginning to wonder what the long-term consequences of the heightened geopolitical conflict will be for Russia Inc. (Financial Times)

Bord Gáis Energy sold to Centrica-led consortium for €1.1bn: A consortium comprising Centrica, the owner of British Gas, and two private equity groups have struck a deal to buy Bord Gáis Energy, the retail arm of Ireland’s state gas company, Bord Gáis Éireann, for €1.1bn. (Financial Times)

EasyJet shares climb as mild weather helps cut airline’s losses: EasyJet shares rose more than 5 per cent in early trading after the budget airline scaled back its expectations for its first-half losses, saying milder than usual weather had helped cut costs. (Financial Times)

Royal Mail union warns of industrial action after 1,300 job cuts: The union for Royal Mail managers warned of industrial action on Tuesday after the newly privatised postal service announced a net 1,300 job losses, mostly in management roles. (Financial Times)

The US is losing its edge as an employment powerhouse where the vast majority of people have a job or are looking for one, after its labour participation rate fell behind the UK’s for the first time since 1978. (Financial Times)

Co-op Bank review finds yet more skeletons: The explanation behind the lender’s need to raise an additional £400m of capital just three months after a sweeping £1.5bn recapitalisation is perhaps a new low. As well as new provisions for mis-selling loan insurance, the bank also blamed its decrepit IT systems, which for years have miscalculated the number of days in a year. (Financial Times)

“The Walt Disney Co has agreed to buy Maker Studios, one of YouTube’s largest networks, for $500 million, a deal that makes Disney a major online video distributor and should help draw more teens into the Disney entertainment empire. The price tag could rise to $950 million if Maker hits certain performance milestones, Disney said, confirming what a source told Reuters earlier on Monday.” (Reuters)

Markets: European bourses were higher having shrugged off initial caution amid wariness over the Crimea crisis and concerns about the pace of China’s economic growth. Expectations that US interest rates could rise earlier than previously thought also continued to filter through markets, weighing on sentiment in some quarters. The FTSE Asia-Pacific index was flat but the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.7 per cent, its gain partly reflecting strength in miners as metals rebounded, and also the fact that although US stocks finished lower on Monday, they managed to pare losses after the European close. US index futures showed the S&P 500 adding 2 points to 1,859.5, leaving the Wall Street benchmark 19 points below its record high. (Financial Times)

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