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What to Watch Today: Stock Futures Jump Ahead of Fed's Key Interest Rate Decision



U.S. stock futures were firmly in the green Wednesday, as investors await a key interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve later in the day. Dow futures implied an opening gain of roughly 280 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were higher by around 0.9% and 1.4%, respectively. (CNBC)

* 10-year Treasury yield tops 2.16% ahead of Fed decision (CNBC)
* The Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates, but unique challenges could slow its pace (CNBC)

Wall Street is looking to build off Tuesday's solid gains, when the S&P 500 jumped 2.1% to end a three-day losing streak. The Nasdaq advanced 2.9% to also halt a three-day skid. Both indexes are seeking their first back-to-back positive sessions since Feb. 24-25. The Dow gained 599 points, or 1.8%, on Tuesday.

* Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surges 9%, best day since October 2008 as Tencent, Alibaba jump more than 23% (CNBC)

Retail sales increased 0.3% in February, slightly below Dow Jones estimates of 0.4% and a considerable slowdown compared with January's figures, according to the Commerce Department. The Labor Department also reported a 1.4% rise in February import prices, compared with consensus forecasts for a 1.6% jump. (CNBC)

At 10:00 a.m. ET, the National Association of Home Builders will be out with its monthly sentiment index, seen dropping to 80 for March from 82 in February. 

* Mortgage demand falls as interest rates surge to multiyear highs (CNBC)

January business inventories are also out at 10:00 a.m. ET, expected to rise 1.1% after increasing 2.1% in December. Lastly, the Energy Department is out with its weekly assessment of oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Lands' End (LE), Jabil (JBL) and Shoe Carnival (SCVL) are among the handful of companies that reported quarterly results Wednesday morning, while Guess (GES), Williams-Sonoma (WSM) and Lennar (LEN) issue their earnings reports after Wednesday's closing bell.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a potential agreement to ending the war with Russia is starting to "sound more realistic," as negotiations with Moscow continue. "However, time is still needed for the decisions to be in Ukraine's interests," Zelenskyy said in an address to the nation. (CNBC)

* Zelenskyy center stage: Facing Congress, pleading for help (Associated Press)
* Biden admin weighs providing Ukraine with killer drones called Switchblades (NBC News)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is entering its fourth week, and its attack on its neighbor appears to be widening. Local officials in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia said civilian infrastructure in the town had been targeted for the first time. Residential buildings in the Ukrainian capital city, Kyiv, also were under fire again Wednesday. (CNBC)

Starbucks (SBUX) announced CEO Kevin Johnson is retiring after five years in the role, and Howard Schultz will return to the job on an interim basis until a permanent successor is named. Schultz has led the coffee giant two times before, most recently from 2008 to 2017. Starbucks shares were up by more than 5% in premarket trading.

Sarah Bloom Raskin has withdrawn her candidacy to serve as the Federal Reserve's vice chair for supervision, an important regulatory position for the banking industry. In the weeks since President Joe Biden nominated her to the role, Raskin's views on climate policy became a partisan sticking point and ultimately her ability to be confirmed became nearly impossible after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., declared his opposition. (CNBC)

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize an additional coronavirus vaccine booster shot for Americans who are at least 65 years old. In their application, the vaccine makers cite data from Israel that shows a second Covid booster dose at least four months after the initial shot offers better protection against the disease. (NBC News)


Pfizer (PFE) and partner BioNTech (BNTX) have asked the FDA to approve a second booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine. A decision could come in time for an autumn vaccination campaign.

Spotify (SPOT) signed a stadium and shift sponsorship deal with Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona.  The Spotify brand will be on uniform shirts for the next 4 seasons.

 Didi Global (DIDI), Alibaba (BABA), (JD) and Pinduoduo (PDD) are all staging strong rallies in premarket trading, as the China-based companies try to rebound from sell-offs resulting from worries about China's Covid-19 outbreak as well as U.S. delisting fears.

 NortonLifeLock's (NLOK) $8.6 billion deal to buy British cybersecurity rival Avast may get an in-depth probe by UK regulators, who say the deal raises competitive concerns.  NortonLifeLock said it does not intend to submit any potential remedies for those concerns.

 Novo Nordisk (NVO) gained in premarket trading after the Danish health care company was upgraded to buy from hold at Deutsche Bank, which also raised its price target for the stock.

Shoe Carnival (SCVL) shares slid 3.3% in the premarket despite an upbeat quarterly report which saw it beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines. The shoe retailer issued a full-year revenue and profit forecast range that was largely – but not completely – above current Street forecasts. Shoe Carnival also announced a 29% dividend increase.

Lands' End (LE) missed estimates by 10 cents with quarterly earnings of 21 cents per share, while revenue also fell short of Street forecasts. The apparel retailer also gave a weaker-than-expected forecast as it faces increasing costs and continued supply chain challenges. Lands' End tumbled 9.5% in premarket trading.

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