What to watch today: Stocks set to rise on tame inflation data after Tuesdays surge – CNBC

BY THE NUMBERS

Tame inflation data pressured the 10-year Treasury yield Wednesday, and U.S. stock futures headed higher. On Tuesday, beaten-up tech stocks roared back, pushing the Nasdaq up nearly 3.7% in its best day since November. Declining bond yields supported Tuesday’s rally, which extended to the Dow and S&P 500. (CNBC)

The Labor Department on Wednesday morning said its consumer price index rose 0.4% in February, matching expectations. In the 12 months through February, the CPI gained 1.7%, the largest rise in a year, after climbing 1.4% in January. However, that yearly run rate was in-line with estimates as well. (Reuters)

Today’s most crucial event may well be the 10-year Treasury auction at 1 p.m. ET, with investors focused on the possibility of rising yields. In recent weeks, equity investors have closely watched the upward move of bond yields. Later, Oracle (ORCL), Cloudera (CLDR), AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Bumble (BMBL) are all scheduled to report quarterly results after today’s closing bell.(CNBC)

* Mortgage refinance demand plunges 43% from a year ago (CNBC)

Tech stocks were steady in the premarket after the likes of Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) on Tuesday each jumped more than 4%. Tesla (TSLA) on Wednesday added to its over 19.6% surge in the prior session, which broke a five-day losing streak and nearly wiped out all the losses over that stretch. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS

House Democrats are expected to pass the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package today, putting President Joe Biden in a position to sign it by the weekend. The bill is not likely to receive GOP support. The stimulus package extends the federal unemployment enhancement, direct checks for some Americans up to $1,400 and aid for state and local governments. (CNBC)

* Biden Covid relief plan gives bigger boost to lower-income Americans than Trump tax cuts, study says (CNBC)

General Electric (GE) said today it will sell its jet-leasing business GE Capital Aviation Services to Irish rival AerCap (AER). The deal is valued at $30 billion. GE shares were lower by 2% in premarket trading, while AerCap shares were higher by about 1.5%. Also today, GE said its board was recommending a 1-for-8 reverse stock split, which would decrease the number of outstanding shares. (CNBC)

Alaska has become the first state to make Covid vaccines available to anyone 16 years old and above who live or work in there. Currently, almost 24% of the state’s population has received at least one vaccine dose. Only Pfizer‘s (PFE) two-dose vaccine received emergency use authorization for people 16 and up. The move from Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy comes as other states also widen eligibility for Covid vaccines. (CNBC)

* Biden administration to buy an additional 100 million doses of J&J’s Covid vaccine (CNBC)
* J&J Covid vaccine distribution in poor, Black communities raises race questions (CNBC)
* Fauci warns U.S. Covid cases may ‘plateau again at an unacceptably high level’ (CNBC)

Eli Lilly’s (LLY) combination antibody therapy decreased the risk of hospitalization and death in Covid patients by 87%, according to a new study of 769 high-risk people with the disease. The two-antibody treatment was authorized for emergency use by the FDA last month. However, Eli Lilly said the findings of the latest study further demonstrate the benefit of using the antibody drugs to treat Covid. (Reuters)

* UK Covid-19 variant has significantly higher death rate, study finds (Reuters)

Kids online gaming company Roblox (RBLX) is going public today through a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares were set at a reference price of $45, although that doesn’t indicate exactly where the stock will open. In January, Roblox completed a financing round that valued the company at almost $30 billion. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Campbell Soup (CPB): The food maker saw both adjusted earnings and revenue match analyst forecasts for its fiscal second quarter. Campbell is projecting full-year adjusted earnings of $3.03 to $3.11 per share, compared to a consensus estimate of $3.05.

Express (EXPR): The apparel retailer lost an adjusted 66 cents per share for its latest quarter, smaller than the 83 cent loss that analysts were expecting. Revenue was larger than forecast, despite a greater than expected slide in same-store sales, and the stock soared 30% in pre-market trading.

Coherent (COHR): Coherent announced a revised merger agreement with Lumentum (LITE) in which shareholders receive $175 per share in cash and 1.0109 Lumentum shares for each share they now hold. The revised bid for the maker of lasers and laser technology came after optoelectronic components maker II-VI (IIVI) came in with a bid for Coherent that had topped the original agreement that Coherent had struck with Lumentum in February. Coherent rose 2.2% premarket.

GameStop (GME): GameStop surged another 15.2% In pre-market trading, following a 5-day win streak that saw its shares more than double. Other so-called “meme stocks” also rose in pre-market action, with AMC Entertainment (AMC) up 7.7% and Koss Corp. (KOSS) up 11.2%.

Levi Strauss (LEVI): Levi Strauss Chairman Stephen Neal will step down on March 26 upon reaching the board’s mandatory retirement age of 72. He’ll be replaced as chairman of the apparel maker’s board by Robert Eckert, a current board member and former Mattel CEO. Levi Strauss shares fell 1% premarket.

MongoDB (MDB): MongoDB reported a smaller than expected loss and better than expected revenue for its latest quarter, although the database company also forecast results for the full year that fell short of analyst forecasts. The stock gained 1.6% in premarket action.

Pfizer (PFE), BioNTech (BNTX): The drug makers reached an agreement with the European Union to supply 4 million additional doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to EU member states. The doses will be delivered before the end of March. BioNTech shares added 2.1% in premarket trading.

Toll Brothers (TOL): The luxury home builder’s shares rose 2% in premarket trading after it announced a 54% increase in its quarterly dividend to 17 cents per share from the prior 11 cents.

H&R Block (HRB): H&R Block posted a wider quarterly loss and lower than expected revenue, citing a delay in the start of the tax filing season. However, the tax preparation company still expects to meet its full-year financial targets, and the stock gained 1.2% premarket.

Biohaven Pharmaceuticals (BHVN): The FDA published a letter to Biohaven which said that a direct-to-consumer video makes false or misleading claims about Biohaven’s migraine treatment Nurtec ODT. The video features an interview with Khloe Kardashian, identifying her as a paid Biohaven spokesperson.

Apple (AAPL): Apple cut iPhone production orders for the first half of this year by 20%, according to Japan’s Nikkei news service. The cuts are said to be concentrated in Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini model.

Conagra Brands (CAG): Conagra is in talks to sell the Hebrew National hot dog brand to Brazil’s JBS, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. A deal could be valued at around $700 million.

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