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Wall Street points to modest gains as bullish February continues

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Futures are pointing to modest gains at the Wall Street open following the long holiday weekend, which would continue a bullish February for the markets. The Dow has been up for seven consecutive sessions, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have been higher for eight of the past nine sessions. All three are coming off record closes on Friday. (CNBC)

Oil prices rose on data showing hedge funds placing massive bets on the North Sea and U.S. crude as OPEC's promised production cuts squeeze supply. (Reuters)

Separately, analysts at Citi predicted crude oil prices could rise to $70 a barrel by the end of 2017 in a note to investors. (CNBC)

President Donald Trump tapped Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his next national security advisor, calling the Army officer and strategist "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience." (CNBC)

The White House also said retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who was Trump's acting advisor, would serve as the National Security Council's chief of staff. (CNBC)

Trump plans to introduce a revised version of his controversial travel ban, a temporary order targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, that will focus on fewer people to avoid legal challenges. (USA Today)

A CIA analyst who had served the intelligence agency for a decade quit his job, citing an inability to serve the Trump administration "in good faith." (CNBC)

Over a dozen chief executives, including the heads of Boeing and Caterpillar, sent a letter to House and Senate lawmakers calling on them to overhaul the corporate tax code via a controversial proposal that would lower the cost of exports while penalizing imports. (CNBC)

On Monday, CPAC organizers rescinded their invitation to Milo Yiannopoulos to speak this week after the controversial Breitbart editor downplayed the issue of pedophilia in a video leaked online. Simon & Schuster also canceled publication of his book "Dangerous." (NY Times)

"Not My President's Day" rallies took place Monday in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and more than two dozen other cities that participated in the nationwide protest against the Trump administration. (NBC News)

Home Depot's earnings report beat the Street's expectations, with EPS of $1.44 versus the estimate for $1.34. The retailer also announced a 29 percent dividend increase. (CNBC)

Wal-Mart earnings also topped Wall Street estimates on earnings per share of $1.30 versus the expected $1.29, as the retail giant's U.S. business accelerated in its fiscal fourth quarter. (CNBC)

HSBC reported a 62 percent drop in annual profit, with the bank's bottom line falling well short of analyst estimates. The results reflected significant writedowns from restructuring, among other factors. (Reuters)

Kraft Heinz walked away from a $143 billion deal with consumer goods giant Unilever on Monday, but now the two companies are under pressure to deliver faster growth. (WSJ)

Restaurant Brands International, owner of Burger King and Tim Hortons, is nearing a deal to buy Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for more than $1.7 billion, Reuters reported. The deal could be announced as early as this week. (CNBC)

Uber hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for an independent investigation into a former employee's allegations of sexual harassment and gender bias at the company, which she published in a blog post online. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

The shortened trading week gets off to a slow start as far as economic data is concerned, with no reports on the schedule for Tuesday. However, there are three Fed-related events Tuesday, with Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and San Francisco Fed President John Williams all making public appearances. Kashkari and Harker are voting members of the FOMC this year, while Williams is an alternate member.

Dow components Home Depot (HD) and Wal-Mart (WMT) lead a busy morning of corporate earnings reports, with Macy's (M), Advance Auto Parts (AAP), Cracker Barrel (CBRL), Genuine Parts (GPC) and Medtronic (MDT) also scheduled to report.

After the bell earnings reports Tuesday include American Water Works (AWK), First Solar (FSLR), La-Z-Boy (LZB), Newfield Exploration (NFX), Newmont Mining (NEM), Papa John's (PZZA), Red Robin (RRGB) and Texas Roadhouse (TXRH).

STOCKS TO WATCH

BHP Billiton (BHP) declared a first-half dividend of 40 cents per share, more than double the year-ago figure of 15 cents and above analyst forecasts for a 34 cent payout. The miner's move reflects the rebound in commodity prices, although BHP said it was still prioritizing paying down debt.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson told a Tokyo investor conference that a casino-based resort in Japan could cost up to $10 billion to build. The company is bidding for operating rights in what could become the world's second-largest casino market after Japan's legalization of casinos late last year.

General Motors (GM) got a positive mention in this weekend's Barron's, based on its plan to sell its Opel division in Europe. The paper said selling Opel could free up as much as $1 billion in cash annually.

Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 10 operating system is still under scrutiny by European Union privacy watchdogs, who say they are still concerned about the privacy settings despite a recently announced change. The officials say users lack control over how Microsoft uses their personal data.

WATERCOOLER

Kellogg's will turn its New York breakfast cereal bar into a Pop-Tarts-themed location that serves dessert versions of pizza, tacos and fries made out of Pop-Tarts. (USA Today)

Traffic jams set U.S. drivers back by an average of $1,200 a year in wasted time and fuel, according to an Inrix study. The price is much more in Los Angeles, which has the world's biggest rush hour delays. (Reuters)