TWO THINGS TO WATCH: GERMAN IFO AND DRAGHI’S SPEECH

European markets are likely to open lower on Tuesday after U.S. markets fell for the second straight session. Nasdaq was especially hard hit as investors shed recent outperformers, including Facebook, Netflix and Tesla Motors. Biotechnology stocks continued to slide on Monday, after selling off on Friday. Meanwhile, leaders of the Group of Seven nations warned Russia of damaging economic sanctions if President Vladimir Putin initiates further action to destabilize Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea.

German IFO expected to dip

The IFO institute’s business climate index, which is a measure of business sentiment in Germany, and is based on a survey of 7,000 executives, will likely surprise to the downside. According to consensus estimates, the index was probably at 110.9 this month, after rising to 111.3 in February, the strongest reading since July 2011. Since Germany accounts for approximately a quarter of the total Euro-zone GDP, the German Ifo index is a significant economic health indicator of not just the country, but the Euro-zone as a whole.

Draghi speaks in Paris

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is scheduled to speak on Tuesday. Analysts will closely follow his speech for any hints of deflation worries, which will surely revive speculation about lower interest rates or other monetary easing measures. The head of the central bank had earlier this month said that the euro area’s economy was meeting the bank’s baseline scenario of a gradual recovery, and had stressed that the ECB will stick to its generous stance for a long time.

Asian markets mixed

Asian markets are mixed in trade following a lackluster session on Wall Street, though hopes that China will unveil fresh stimulus measures to combat slowing growth are holding some markets up. Mainland Chinese shares erased early morning losses to trade above the flatline, while the Japan’s benchmark Nikkei also recovered from morning losses following the near 2 percent rally in the previous session. Signs of slowing factory output in the world’s second biggest economy comes as U.S. policy makers start to reduce stimulus. Speculation is rife that the Chinese government will accelerate reforms to support growth. But most analysts feel that any policy measures by government to support the economy would be modest and certainly not on the scale of the massive stimulus provided after the global financial crisis.

Gold steady; Oil down

Gold was steady in early Asian trade after sliding close to 2 percent in the previous session. Some hedge funds have turned bearish towards the metal after recent comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen suggested interest rates could rise sooner than many in markets had expected, hurting gold’s demand as a hedge against inflation. U.S. crude oil fell for the first time in three days, but managed to hold above the $99-level amid news that U.S. authorities were looking to reopen the key Houston Ship Channel, the shutdown of which had lifted prices in the previous session of trade. The euro held gains versus most of its major counterparts after data yesterday showed that growth in euro zone manufacturing and services stayed close to the fastest in almost three years. The Australian dollar was another standout performer, rising to its strongest level this year.

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