Today's Primer

US Stocks Seen Down; Yellen, Powell to Speak


The now-realized threat of sequestration notwithstanding, U.S. stocks enter the new week with some positive momentum and the prospect of a record high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow stands just under 75 points short of its all-time record close set back in October 2007, about 0.5%, and the S&P 500 is about 3% away from its own record close set that same month.

The new week gets off to a slow start as far as economic reports are concerned, with none on the calendar for today. Two Fed speakers are on the schedule, however, with Vice Chair Janet Yellen and Governor Jerome Powell both set to make public appearances today.

It's also a slow day for corporate earnings, with Boyd Gaming (BYD) and Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) among the few companies set to report.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) leads our list of stocks to watch, both because of its late Friday earnings release, and because Berkshire's Warren Buffett will be live on Squawk Box answering viewer questions for the entire three hours (6-9a ET). Berkshire reported fourth quarter profit of $1704.00 per share, below Street estimates of $1755.00, and Buffett calls the company's 2012 performance "subpar" in his annual letter to shareholders.

Transocean (RIG) reported fourth quarter profit of $0.91 per share, excluding certain items, nine cents above estimates, with revenues essentially in line. The offshore drilling contractor saw its so-called "revenue efficiency" rise to 94.7% compared to 91.8% a year earlier.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is disputing reports out late Friday that it likely violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The casino operator says that its audit committee found likely violations of accounting provisions, which could mean just a single or a handful of incorrectly recorded transactions. LVS is particularly upset with a New York Times headline saying "Casino Says It Likely Cheated", calling it uninformed and misleading reporting.

Yahoo (YHOO) is planning to discontinue seven of its products, including its mobile Blackberry app. Also among the eliminated: Yahoo App Search, Yahoo Sports IQ, Yahoo Clues, and Yahoo Message Boards.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) is attacking accusations that it watered down its beer with a series of full page newspaper ads. The ad blitz is in response to a class action lawsuit that accuses the company of adding water just before bottling its beers.

Elan (ELN) is offering shareholders 20% of the royalties for the best-selling multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, in an effort to dodge a $6.6 billion takeover bid by investment firm Royalty Pharma.

Celgene (CELG) says an experimental psoriasis drug was found to be safe and effective in a trial, which paves the way for a filing for regulatory approval during the second half of this year.

United Technologies (UTX) unit Pratt & Whitney has uncovered a fraudulent engine-testing scheme, according to the Wall Street Journal. That follows an investigation which began back in 2011.

MetroPCS (PCS) is being pressured by one of its biggest investors to update its SEC filings. P. Schoenfeld Asset management wants the company to update those fillings to reflect the earnings of T-Mobile. The Deutsche Telekom unit and MetroPCS agreed to merge last October, a deal which P. Schoenfeld has strongly criticized.