Verizon’s pay TV plan, and finance bigwigs meet in Washington — 5 things to know today

2011 Consumer Electronics Show Showcases Latest Technology Innovations
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 06: Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg delivers a keynote address at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Hilton January 6, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology tradeshow, runs from January 6-9 and is expected to feature 2,700 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 126,000 attendees. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

U.S. stock futures are trending down this morning, and European shares are flat. Asian indexes closed the week mixed.

Investors are digesting March’s consumer price index, which showed consumer prices increased for the second month in a row, while a few companies are reporting earnings, including Dow stock General Electric (GE), which reported an adjusted profit. Last week, GE said it would sell most of its GE Capital business.

In other news of note, Verizon (VZ) is rolling out a new pay TV plan that allows consumers to choose every month bundles of channels they want to see, a small step in the direction of ‘a la carte’ programming, which means allowing customers to build their own pay TV service, channel by channel.

Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.

1. Finance leaders gather in Washington.

Finance officials from the world’s top economies gather in Washington today to discuss the right mix of strategies to boost a still-faltering recovery nearly six years after the Great Recession. The Group of 20 leaders, including the U.S., Japan, Germany, China and Brazil, will consider how they can support global growth while facing new challenges like a soaring U.S. dollar and a major drop in oil prices. The gathering kicks off the three-day spring meeting between the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, where leaders are also expected to grapple with the timing of the Federal Reserve’s first interest rate hike. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says worldwide markets could have a “bumpy ride” once those rates rise.

2. GE reports.

General Electric said Friday its quarterly industrial profit rose 9% helped by improved profit margins, as the U.S. conglomerate shifts more to manufacturing of jet engines, turbines and other big-ticket products and splits from finance. Revenue fell 1% in its industrials segments, but on an organic basis, stripping out a $950 million hit from currency fluctuations and the impact from deals, sales rose 3%. GE’s shares soared the most in six years last Friday on the company’s surprise announcement that it will sell off its financial unit GE Capital, pleasing investors who said the finance business weighed on GE’s value as an industrial company.
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3. Bloomberg terminals crash leaving traders in the dark.

Bloomberg’s terminals from Hong Kong to London experienced an outage that lasted an hour, affecting traders before the close of the Asian markets Friday. Bloomberg Professional, as the units are known, are the company’s signature product and more than 315,000 traders around the world rely on them to provide market data and news. The terminals are Bloomberg’s signature product and provide a majority of the company’s revenues. The crash led the UK government to postpone a 3 billion pound debt ($TK) sale, citing technical problems with an outside platform.

4. Lafarge will sell $450 million of its U.S. assets.

Lafarge, the France-based cement producer, will offload a cement plant in Iowa and seven distribution terminals to Summit Materials (SUM) for $450 million. The deal is part of a plan to win antitrust approval for its merger with Swiss rival Holcim. Summit, which gave Lafarge one of its own cement terminals in Iowa as well, will fund the acquisition with debt and equity. The sales are all subject to approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The two European cement makers say they plan to complete the merger by July of this year.
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5. Volkswagen is facing a leadership crisis.

The German-automaker is facing internal turmoil after the VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piech indicated that company CEO Martin Winterkorn’s contract may not be renewed when it runs out next year. Winterkorn said he will fight to keep his position even as the chairman publicly revealed his lack of confidence in his leadership. The management crisis comes as VW looks to cut billions of euros of cost to boost profitability while reviving its U.S. sales. The supervisory board’s steering committee have been meeting behind closed doors and are expected to issue a public statement today.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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