Morning Brief

Wall Street seeks a strong end to a great month

Key Points


U.S. stock futures were flat this morning after the Dow pushed its record high close streak to 12 sessions, the most since 1987. Investors are also awaiting President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress tonight. (CNBC)

Target (TGT) shares were getting slammed in premarket trading after the retailer reported earnings, revenue, same-store sales, and outlook that were below expectations. (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL) has decided to adopt a flexible display for one model of the new iPhone coming out this year. Meanwhile, Apple will ditch the Lightning connector on the iPhone 8 in favor of the industry's standard USB Type-C connector. (WSJ)

U.S. economic growth was a bit worse than expectations in the second estimate for the fourth quarter, with robust consumer spending offset by downward revisions to business and government investment. (Reuters)

Ahead of the GDP numbers, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan believes it's time for the central bank to pull back on its aggressive easing policies. Policymakers should move "sooner rather than later," he added. (CNBC)

President Trump is expected to discuss, during his 9 p.m. ET speech, plans for defense and stimulus spending as well as the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. But Wall Street is most interested in tax reform. (CNBC)

In a preview of tonight, the White House said Trump's first budget will call for a $54 billion increase in defense spending and a corresponding cut in what the administration deems lower priority programs. (CNBC)

Trump told Fox News there's a lot of room for improvement in the way he and his administration communicate their ideas to the American people. "In terms of messaging, I would give myself a 'C' or a 'C-plus,'" he said.

The president is expected to sign a measure aimed at boosting government support for the nation's historically black colleges. Trump vowed in the campaign to improve the lives of black Americans. (Reuters)

Defense Secretary James Mattis has delivered a preliminary plan on how to step up the fight against ISIS, which would likely include more U.S. troops and further steps to crack down on the terror group's funding. (CNBC)

The Senate has confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce secretary, clearing another one of Trump's economic team members. Ross has agreed to divest from much of his business empire. (AP)

In the wake of Trump's repeated attacks on the media, Jeff Zucker, president of Time Warner-owned CNN, criticized many leaders in Congress as "gutless" for not speaking up. (CNBC)

Wal-Mart's (WMT) latest upgrades to its mobile app, set to begin rolling out next month, takes at perceived weaknesses with Amazon's (AMZN) and Target's (TGT) offerings. (CNBC)

Snap, which this week could become the biggest tech public offering in years, defiantly operates unlike most Silicon Valley outfits. The Snapchat parent is valued at $22 billion. (WSJ)

Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to launch a crewed mission around the moon for two private customers late next year after sending a crewed NASA Dragon 2 craft to the International Space Station. (CNBC)

Japanese auto parts maker Takata has pleaded guilty to fraud in U.S. federal court, agreeing to pay a $1 billion penalty for concealing a deadly defect in millions of its air bags that led to the biggest auto recall ever. (AP)

South Korea's special prosecutor's office is expected to charge Samsung Group's Jay Y. Lee and four other executives with bribery, embezzlement and other offenses. (Reuters)

Two women are expected to be charged with the killing in Malaysia of the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader. U.S. and South Korean officials believe he was assassinated by North Korea. (Reuters)

A deadly commando raid in Yemen last month, which cost the lives of a U.S. Navy SEAL and at least 25 civilians, has so far yielded no significant intelligence, U.S. officials told NBC News.


In a price war benefiting individual investors, Fidelity, starting today, is cutting by nearly 40 percent what the brokerage charges online retail customers per stock trade to just $4.95.

Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, who for years charged some of the highest fees in the hedge-fund industry, is cutting them for the second time in eight months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to GDP, the December Case-Shiller report on home prices is out at 9 a.m. ET.

Economists are expecting to see a notable jump in the Chicago purchasing managers index, out at 9:45 a.m. ET.

The Conference Board's February consumer confidence index, out at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to come in at 112.0, just above January's 111.8.

In addition to comments from the Fed's Kaplan, Philly Fed President Patrick Harker, San Francisco Fed President John Williams, and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard have scheduled public appearances today.

Ross Stores and (CRM) headline today's after-the-bell reports.


Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) earned an adjusted $1.26 per share for the fourth quarter, beating estimates by seven cents, while revenue also beat Street forecasts. The company said its core business has strengthened and has been successfully resolving its legacy issues.

Autozone (AZO) earned $8.08 per share for its latest quarter, missing estimates by 11 cents, with revenue also missing. Same-store sales came in flat, and the company saw higher supply chain costs weigh on its overall results.

Priceline Group (PCLN) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $14.21 per share, beating consensus estimates of $13.01. Revenue also beat forecasts as travel bookings increased.

Perrigo (PRGO) said its 2017 earnings would come in at $6.30 - $6.65 per share, below consensus estimates of $7.10. The drug maker also announced it was selling the royalties from its multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, and that its chief financial officer Judy Brown is resigning. Brown is joining Amgen (AMGN) as a senior vice president.

Two executives have reportedly departed from Icahn Enterprises (IEP). Samuel Merksamer, who represents Carl Icahn on several corporate boards, has left and is looking at starting his own hedge fund according to Reuters. Reuters also reports another Icahn representative, Vincent Intrieri, has retired.

Morgan Stanley (MS) has set aside $70 million to cover the cost of paying back taxes to the IRS, and to reimburse clients who overpaid taxes because of incorrect tax information it had given to a "significant number" of its wealth management clients over the past five years.

Nutrisystem (NTRI) reported fourth quarter results that topped Street estimates, and also gave upbeat guidance after what the diet program provider called a "strong start to diet season".

Tenet Healthcare (THC) reported quarterly revenue that fell short of estimates for the first time in six years, as admissions fell. The hospital operator also gave a full-year earnings forecast that falls short of analyst estimates, and the company continues to cut costs and sell hospitals.

Hertz Global (HTZ) lost an adjusted 71 cents per share for the fourth quarter, wider than the 57 cent consensus estimate, although revenue matched forecasts. Hertz said it has had issues regarding its fleet and its service and is working to resolve those issues.


The streets of New Orleans will be buzzing today and into the night with costumed Mardi Gras revelers and dazzling floats. (AP)

Sales of Cuba's legendary cigars rose 5 percent last year to $445 million, manufacturer Habanos said at the opening of the Caribbean island's annual cigar festival. (Reuters)