China's rapid growth is a double-edged sword and today it is cutting into world equities markets. Asian and European markets were lower and U.S. stocks are pointing at a weaker opening, with the Dow, fresh off a new high, looking particularly wobbly. Earnings news is also setting the tone.
China's GDP increased a roaring 11.1% in the first quarter, compared to a year earlier. Premier Wen Jiabao said the government will take steps to curb lending and investment and rein in the trade surplus. Speculation immediately swirled through markets that China would jack up its interest rates again.
CNBC will focus on China all day, including on the difficult struggle with trade issues and what it all means for the U.S. economy, the markets and business. Our Melissa Lee is covering the important Committee of 100's conference on U.S.-China relations in New York today. A key speaker there is LBO king Henry Kravis. Tomorrow, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson speaks at the event and we will watch it live on CNBC.
Earnings are pouring in this morning, with a big gain from Merrill Lynch, which saw profits jump 28%, in part on trading gains. Merck said first quarter jumped 12%. Dow stock Altria said profits fell 21% on weakness in domestic cigarette sales but it raised its full-year guidance. Some important tech names come after the bell, including Google and AMD, which investors will watch to see if Intel is really grabbing share from its rival.
The executive board of the World Bank meets today on the future of President Paul Wolfowitz as the calls for his resignation are increasing.