Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street futures are flat this morning as investors wait to hear what Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has to say when she testifies before the Senate banking committee this morning in her semi-annual report on monetary policy (she’ll appear before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday). Markets are waiting for any indication about when the Fed may raise interest rates. European shares are also flat, although Greek stocks gained 7% in trading on news that a loan extension deal could be near. Asian markets ended the day mostly higher.
Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.
1. Janet Yellen begins her two-day testimony.
Yellen will address lawmakers this morning, while investors listen on carefully for any indication the timing for an interest rate hike this year. A rate increase could come as early as June, even if Yellen and Fed officials don’t remove the “patient” language from their policy statements, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker predicted in an interview with Market News International. The economy has continued to post strong employment gains, small but improving wage growth and new stock market highs. This is all evidence that Yellen may choose to normalize Fed policy soon, though she will seek to assure lawmakers that any interest rate adjustment will be careful and gradual.
2. Greece gets closer.
Greek leaders met the midnight deadline last night to submit a new proposal of economic overhauls in order to secure a four-month extension on its loan agreement. European leaders are reviewing the list to ensure it meets the standards set by the country’s creditors. Greece has agreed to maintain current state-asset sales, consolidate its pension funds to limit costs, and overhaul its tax collection and administration, according to Bloomberg News, which obtained a draft of the list. Eurozone leaders seem to be happier with this round of measures and indicate that it could be sufficient to start wrapping up negotiations, Bloomberg reported.
3. Hewlett-Packard gives investors more info.
HP (HP) reports its first quarter earnings after the market close today. Investors will be looking for more information on how the company plans to split itself later this year. HP said in October that it would break itself up into two separate companies, one that would focus on personal computing and printing, and another that would capture its corporate business, software, infrastructure and finance units. CEO Meg Whitman is likely to provide more guidance on the split during the conference call today. Investors are particularly interested in how HP plans to divide the amount of cash and debt each company will have.
4. Keystone XL bill hits Obama’s desk.
President Obama has promised to veto the Keystone XL bill if it comes his way — and it looks like today may be the day. The bill has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. A veto, which would be Obama’s third during his time as president, would halt the efforts of Congressional Republicans. The pipeline would connect the oil sands of Canada with refineries on the Gulf Coast, and opponents say it could cause widespread environmental damage. Analysts are predicting that this block could trigger the “veto era” of Obama’s presidency as other issues, such as changes to the Affordable Care Act and new sanctions on Iran, come his way.
5. Europe: Get your iPhones ready.
Visa Europe is beefing up its security features. Visa Europe said it would unveil a “tokenisation” service, which uses random codes for a user’s credit card details when the information is submitted to a merchant. That would reduce worries of online theft and pave the way for services such as Apple Pay. Similar services are used in the U.S. by Visa (V) (the former parent of Visa Europe), MasterCard (MA) and American Express (AXP), which has led to growing use of mobile payment services.