Morning Brief

Markets eye fresh highs as Wall Street awaits housing data, Fed minutes

Key Points


Futures are relatively flat – but still mostly positive – following a day that saw the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq close at record highs once again. The Dow has risen for eight consecutive sessions, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have been higher for eight of the last nine trading days. The S&P 500 is now on track to post its largest monthly gain since March 2016. (CNBC)

Oil prices remain close to multiweek highs after OPEC and other producers showed optimism over promised cuts to high crude oil output, which has oversupplied the oil market since 2014. (CNBC)

The U.S. dollar lost some steam in Asian trading as investors looked to the Federal Reserve's release of minutes from its latest meeting, which will shed light on the pace of possible interest rate raises. (Reuters)

Nearly all undocumented immigrants will be subject to deportation under President Donald Trump's administration, but protections will remain for those known as "dreamers," who illegally entered the United States as children. (Reuters)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attested to the importance of a productive relationship between the United States and China while on the phone with China's top diplomat. The two agreed that the threat posed by North Korea is a pressing matter. (Reuters)

Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will travel to Mexico this week to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other top officials to discuss border security among other issues. (Reuters)

Trump espoused a theory on Twitter in response to unrest seen at town hall events across the country, saying the "so-called angry crowds" are many times "planned out by liberal activists." (USA Today)

In an effort to get ahead of Trump's planned regulatory cutback, automakers asked the EPA to roll back some of the Obama administration's strict fuel-economy and emissions standards. (WSJ)

Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plunged by more than 30 percent on Tuesday following a ruling by a U.S. appeals court dismissing hedge funds' claims that the government seized Fannie's and Freddie's profits after their taxpayer bailout. (Reuters)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM), HSBC (HSBC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) have reportedly been chosen as lead underwriters for the initial public offering planned by Saudi Aramco, according to The Wall Street Journal. The offering by the state-run Saudi oil company would be the largest ever, with the public stake worth as much as $150 billion and the entire company valued at more than $2 trillion.

Restaurant Brands International, parent of Burger King and Tim Hortons, said Tuesday that it would buy Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8 billion in cash. (CNBC)

Carl Icahn took a stake in Bristol-Myers Squibb, raising concerns about a future sale of a company already under pressure from another activist investor. (WSJ)

Wednesday marks the launch of a new advocacy group, Patients for Affordable Drugs, that aims to target high drug prices and combat the pharmaceutical industry's push to keep regulations loose. (USA Today)

Authorities ordered evacuations for over 1,000 homes in San Jose due to waist-high flooding in California's third-largest city. The city, which has about 1 million residents, declared a state of emergency. (Reuters)


Just one economic report is out Wednesday, with the National Association of Realtors releasing its January existing home sales report at 10:00 a.m. ET. Consensus forecasts call for a 1.1 percent increase to an annual rate of 5.55 million units, following December 2.8 percent decline.

The marquee event of the day for investors will be the release of the minutes from the most recent meeting of Fed policymakers, out at 2:00 p.m. ET. There will also be two Fed-related speeches, with Fed Governor Jerome Powell and Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan making public appearances.

The usual Wednesday release of the Energy Department's oil and gas inventories report is delayed a day by the Presidents Day holiday – it will be out Thursday.

Quarterly earnings reports out this morning include Dish Network (DISH), Garmin (GRMN), Mobileye (MBLY), Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), Six Flags (SIX), Southern Co. (SO), TJX (TJX) and Wolverine World Wide (WWW).

After-the-bell reports out Wednesday include Boston Beer (SAM), Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), Fitbit (FIT), HP Inc. (HPQ), Jack In The Box (JACK), L Brands (LB), Public Storage (PSA), Realty Income (O), Square (SQ), Sturm Ruger (RGR), Tesla (TSLA), Transocean (RIG) and Tronc (TRNC).


Tribune Media (TRCO) is among our stocks to watch, after news that activist investor Starboard Value has raised its stake in the TV station operator to 6.6 percent from 2.3 percent. Starboard also has a stake in Tronc, the newspaper business spun off from Tribune in 2014.

Texas Roadhouse (TXRH) reported quarterly profit of 29 cents per share, 9 cents below estimates, and the restaurant chain's revenue also missed Street forecasts. Comparable restaurant sales were up 1.2 percent, short of the 3.1 percent consensus estimate. The company points to higher wages as well as other expenses that negated the benefit of lower input costs.

First Solar (FSLR) beat estimates by 27 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of $1.24 per share, and the solar company's revenue also beat estimates. The company raised its 2017 revenue guidance, due to the timing of a new contract, but also said it had to cancel a planned Arizona facility due to opposition to its location.

Facebook (FB) is in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week, according to a Reuters report.

Pfizer (PFE) will delist its shares from both the Swiss Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. The drug company's shares will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Toll Brothers (TOL) reported quarterly profit of 42 cents per share, 7 cents above estimates, while the luxury homebuilder's revenue beat forecasts by a wide margin. However, overall profit was down 3.8 percent from a year ago, impacted by lower average selling prices.


The $403 million Powerball jackpot will see a slew of contenders before the winning numbers are drawn at 11 p.m. ET. The prize is the 10th largest in the history of the lottery. (USA Today)

Basketball legend Magic Johnson was named the Lakers' president of basketball operations. The Hall of Famer will oversee the team's business, stepping in ahead of Thursday's trade deadline. (Sports Illustrated)