Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
1. Stocks in a funk
Wednesday was mixed for stocks. The Dow finished slightly higher, and the Nasdaq slid slightly. The S&P also fell, extending its losing streak to five days. Investors are weighing the odds of a recession as the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates in its bid to cool off decades-high inflation. Despite some recent signs of progress on that front, the economy continues to hum along, adding jobs at a decent clip, with wages rising somewhat as well. Markets will digest the latest weekly jobless claims report before the bell Thursday, while Costco and Broadcom are set to report earnings after the bell. Read live markets updates here.
2. Tech giants split cloud contract
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Four major tech companies are on cloud nine after the Pentagon's announcement Wednesday evening. The Defense Department said it awarded Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle each a part of the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract, which could be worth up to $9 billion in total. The government had solicited bids from the four companies last year, but the federal General Services Administration said at the time that only Amazon and Microsoft were capable of meeting the Pentagon's needs. The contract is an especially big deal for Oracle, which is usually not considered among the top tier of cloud providers.
3. Used car prices sink
Prices of used vehicles hit the lowest level in over a year last month, tumbling from record levels as interest rates rise and new cars, held back by supply constraints, become more widely available. Cox Automotive's Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which tracks used-vehicle prices at its wholesale auto auctions, has fallen six consecutive months. The declines are generally positive news for consumers, who are dealing with decades-high inflation and a potential recession on the horizon. But it's not so great for used car sellers, such as Carvana, which had been paying top dollar for used vehicles to turn around and sell them at a profit.
4. Balwani sentenced
Sunny Balwani, the former operating chief of failed blood-testing startup Theranos, was sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for fraud. His sentencing comes weeks after founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years. Balwani and Holmes were romantically involved as they oversaw the rise of Theranos, attracting support and investment from an array of influential backers, including Fox boss Rupert Murdoch and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis. But behind the scenes, Holmes and Balwani perpetrated an elaborate fraud that covered up the company's failures while they deceived investors. Balwani's lawyers argued that Holmes was responsible, while Holmes has accused Balwani of years' worth of abuse.
5. The long haul in Ukraine
The Ukraine war is in a grim new phase. While the country's military has seized back sizable chunks of territory from the Russian invaders, Russia's missiles continue to hammer Ukraine's infrastructure, making life miserable for millions as harsh winter conditions settle in. "Kyiv might lose power, water, and heat supply. The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it's not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature," Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. In Russia, meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin told officials that they should prepare for a "lengthy" conflict even as the war enters its 10th month. Read live war updates here.
– CNBC's Sarah Min, Jordan Novet, Rohan Goswami, Michael Wayland and Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.
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