By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares scaled seven-year highs following stellar earnings from a few U.S. hi-tech giants, but investors were cautious ahead of central bank meetings this week in the U.S. and Japan and on deadlock in creditors' talks with Greece. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.7 percent while Japan's Nikkei was flat. On Friday, shares in Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft both jumped over 10 percent on strong revenues, boosting the Nasdaq Composite index to a record high. The bull run's dependence on low interest rates and strong central bank, however, has made investors cautious as the Federal Reserve is expected to raise U.S. interest rates from around zero in coming months.
By Thomas Atkins FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank's earnings fell by half in the first quarter, a greater-than-expected drop as hefty legal charges eroded gains in investment banking revenue, while it prepares to unveil details of a strategic overhaul. Almost half came from the investment bank, but its pre-tax contribution fell by more than half due to litigation and regulatory expenses and currency swings, the bank said on Sunday. Deutsche has so far positioned itself as Europe’s “last man standing” in investment banking, even though it has made cuts in certain business lines. Deutsche on Friday announced a new strategic plan including the sale of its Postbank retail chain and additional paring back in investment banking.
Most central banks have been easing policy since the start of the year and are set to do more, but it still isn't clear whether that new activism, which has pushed stock markets to record highs, will help the global economy much. Several meet this week to set policy, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and Sweden's Riksbank, which all have turned to government bond purchases as stimulus after running out of interest rates to cut. The Fed shut its quantitative easing (QE) program just over six months ago. Few expect the Fed to use its two-day meeting as a launching pad for what will eventually be the first interest rate hike in nearly a decade.
By John McCrank NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is convening a group of financial industry veterans for the first time next month to consider stock market reforms, but one group will be conspicuously absent: retail brokerages. The SEC's 17-member Market Structure Advisory Committee includes representatives of fund companies, an exchange, off-exchange trading venues, dealers, and academia, among others. The group, which meets four times a year, will review old rules, and advise the SEC on a range of new regulations designed to make sure the market is as stable and fair as possible. Still, given that the SEC has said its main priority is to protect retail investors, the omission of retail brokers raises questions, because without their point of view the panel may recommend changes that favor institutional investors, analysts said.