BY THE NUMBERS
U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open Wednesday, one day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 logged four-session winning streaks and the Nasdaq saw back-to-back gains. Wall Street shook off a recession signal of inverted yields in the bond market as Russia-Ukraine cease-fire talks raised hopes for diplomatic progress. (CNBC)
With two trading days left in March, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all set to break two-month losing streaks with solid gains. The Nasdaq on Tuesday closed out of correction territory, now less than 10% below its November record high. U.S. oil prices rose 2% early Wednesday after a two-day losing streak. West Texas Intermediate crude was tracking for a fourth straight monthly gain. (CNBC)
The yield spread between the 5-year and the 30-year Treasurys was no longer inverted early Wednesday. The 5-year yield flipped above the 30-year on Monday for the first time since 2006 and stayed that way Tuesday. The 2-year Treasury yield and the benchmark 10-year yield went virtually flat Tuesday and remained close early Wednesday. (CNBC)
Mortgage rates surged last week, driving total home loan volume down 6.8%. The Mortgage Bankers Association said the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage saw its largest one-week jump in 11 years. That sent refinance applications down 15% week over week and down a whopping 60% from a year ago. Home loan purchase demand increased 1% for the week but was 10% lower week over week. (CNBC)
Two days before the government's March employment report, the last one before the Fed's early May meeting, ADP said Wednesday morning that U.S. companies added 455,000 jobs in March, basically matching estimates. The total was below the upwardly revised 486,000 in February and brought ADP's first-quarter private payrolls count to 1.45 million. (CNBC)
IN THE NEWS TODAY
Russian attacks on Ukraine continued Wednesday, one day after Moscow promised to reduce its military activity near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv. Russia's pledge to scale back its aggression was met with skepticism from Ukraine, the United States and Britain. Russian and Ukrainian delegates met in Istanbul on Tuesday. (CNBC & AP)
* Russia, India to discuss SWIFT alternative for ruble payments (SCMP)
Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she'll vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the U.S. Supreme Court, giving bipartisan support for President Joe Biden's first nominee to the high court. Jackson is now all but guaranteed to become the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice. (CNBC)
The FDA cleared fourth Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) Covid vaccine shots for everyone age 50 and older as top health officials declared the more contagious omicron subvariant, BA.2, the dominant version of Covid-19 in the U.S. The FDA also authorized a fifth dose for certain younger people with compromised immune systems. (CNBC)
The CDC recommended all adults who received two doses of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) vaccine get third shots of Pfizer or Moderna. Adults who received the J&J vaccine and a second shot of Pfizer or Moderna are not yet eligible for a third dose, unless they're age 50 and older or have compromised immune systems. All of the new boosters are to be administered at least four months after the last shot.
Investor optimism over the possibility of federal cannabis legalization has contributed to a strong rally in beaten-down pot stocks. On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee is set to hold a hearing on the MORE Act. It's expected to head to the full House for a vote Friday. If it passes, the bill would face uncertain fate in the Senate. (CNBC)
* Walgreens turns to robots to fill prescriptions, as pharmacists take on more responsibilities (CNBC)
Investor Bill Ackman said he'll no longer take part in vocal activist short selling campaigns. The decision came years after his five-year bet against Herbalife (HLF) ended with massive losses in 2018. At the height of his campaign against Herbalife, Ackman famously engaged in an on-air verbal brawl with Icahn on CNBC.
* Icahn expands his animal-welfare campaign to Kroger, after first targeting McDonald’s (CNBC)
STOCKS TO WATCH
Five Below (FIVE) slid 3.4% in premarket trading following a mixed quarterly report. Five Below beat estimates by a penny with quarterly earnings of $2.49 per share, but both revenue and comparable sales came in below analyst forecasts.
RH (RH) fell 2.8% in premarket trading after the high-end furniture retailer reported lower-than-expected revenue for its latest quarter, although its profit came in slightly above Wall Street forecasts. The company formerly called Restoration Hardware also announced a 3-for-1 stock split.
Lululemon (LULU) rallied 7.4% in premarket action despite a quarterly revenue miss. The athletic apparel company reported an adjusted quarterly profit of $3.37 per share, 9 cents above estimates, and issued upbeat guidance for 2022. Lululemon also announced a $1 billion share buyback program.
Micron Technology (MU) reported an adjusted quarterly profit of $2.14 per share, 17 cents above estimates. The computer chip maker also reported better-than-expected revenue. Micron issued an upbeat revenue, and the stock jumped 4% in the premarket.
Chewy (CHWY) plunged 13.5% in premarket trading after top and bottom line misses for its latest quarter. The pet products seller lost 15 cents per share, wider than the 8-cent loss that analysts were anticipating, as labor costs rose and profit margins shrunk.
Norfolk Southern (NSC) rose 2% in premarket trading after the railroad operator announced a new $10 billion share buyback program.
WeWork (WE) Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Mathrani has added the additional role of chairman at the office-sharing company. He fills the void created when former Chairman Marcelo Claure left earlier this year. WeWork added 3% in the premarket.
Pearson (PSO) slumped 7% in the premarket after private equity firm Apollo said it was unable to reach an agreement with the educational publisher on a possible takeover bid, and does not intend to make an offer.
Wayfair (W) dropped 4.5% in premarket trading after Loop Capital downgraded the stock to "sell" from "hold," predicting a negative impact from Fed tightening and the end of Covid-related stimulus.
Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods, who is trying to come back from serious leg and foot injuries he suffered in a car wreck about 14 months ago, played 18 holes at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday, sources told ESPN.